Power icon

27 Feb 2008 - 4:37pm
6 years ago
39 replies
3204 reads
Shaun Bergmann
2007

A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the one: The
circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top edge of the
circle.

This icon was being incorporated into an interface and the argument was made
that "not everybody is going to know what that icon means"

That's totally possible. If anything stands out as a good example of the
statement that there are no intuitive interfaces -- all interfaces are
learned -- it's this icon. The only reason people are going to know that
it's the power button is because they know it's the power button.

I looked at it's design from a fresh perspective today and really have to
question WHY it's become so prevalent? Visually, it doesn't say "power" to
me. Where'd this thing come from?

Comments

27 Feb 2008 - 4:43pm
SemanticWill
2007

From electrical engineering. Its a closed circuit.

will evans
user experience architect
wkevans4 at gmail.com
617.281.1281

On Feb 27, 2008, at 5:37 PM, "Shaun Bergmann"
<shaunbergmann at gmail.com> wrote:

> A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
> Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the
> one: The
> circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top
> edge of the
> circle.
>
> This icon was being incorporated into an interface and the argument
> was made
> that "not everybody is going to know what that icon means"
>
> That's totally possible. If anything stands out as a good example of
> the
> statement that there are no intuitive interfaces -- all interfaces are
> learned -- it's this icon. The only reason people are going to know
> that
> it's the power button is because they know it's the power button.
>
> I looked at it's design from a fresh perspective today and really
> have to
> question WHY it's become so prevalent? Visually, it doesn't say
> "power" to
> me. Where'd this thing come from?
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

27 Feb 2008 - 4:58pm
Shaun Bergmann
2007

Interesting.
Unless I was designing something with the understanding that my ENTIRE
audience was comprised of electrical engineers, I doubt I would think this
is a very good design.
Which brings me back to 'How did this awful thing get to be so widespread
and popular?"
Was there a particular product that used it once, way back in the dark ages,
that injected it's branding and just beat the world population into
understanding that "this means power"?

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 2:43 PM, William Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:

> From electrical engineering. Its a closed circuit.
>
> will evans
> user experience architect
> wkevans4 at gmail.com
> 617.281.1281
>
>
> On Feb 27, 2008, at 5:37 PM, "Shaun Bergmann"
> <shaunbergmann at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
> > Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the
> > one: The
> > circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top
> > edge of the
> > circle.
> >
> > This icon was being incorporated into an interface and the argument
> > was made
> > that "not everybody is going to know what that icon means"
> >
> > That's totally possible. If anything stands out as a good example of
> > the
> > statement that there are no intuitive interfaces -- all interfaces are
> > learned -- it's this icon. The only reason people are going to know
> > that
> > it's the power button is because they know it's the power button.
> >
> > I looked at it's design from a fresh perspective today and really
> > have to
> > question WHY it's become so prevalent? Visually, it doesn't say
> > "power" to
> > me. Where'd this thing come from?
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

27 Feb 2008 - 5:06pm
Scott McDaniel
2007

That is interesting, because even knowing what it is, my mind has to
close the circuit on "what does that mean?"
-which I guess brings up the question if widespread use translates to
true usability, or just dancing-bear familiarity.

Scott

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 5:58 PM, Shaun Bergmann <shaunbergmann at gmail.com> wrote:
> Interesting.
> Unless I was designing something with the understanding that my ENTIRE
> audience was comprised of electrical engineers, I doubt I would think this
> is a very good design.
> Which brings me back to 'How did this awful thing get to be so widespread
> and popular?"
> Was there a particular product that used it once, way back in the dark ages,
> that injected it's branding and just beat the world population into
> understanding that "this means power"?
--
'Life' plus 'significance' = magic. ~ Grant Morrison

27 Feb 2008 - 5:09pm
Bruce Esrig
2006

Bill DeRouchey asked this question just a few weeks ago and got some pretty
authoritative answers. It traces back, most recently, to a harmonized
standard that has been given different numbers by ISO and the IEEE.

You can see the comments from industrial designers at
http://www.historyofthebutton.com/2007/01/30/printer-icons-design-by-habit/

According to the standards, the two components are a vertical stroke and a
circle. When the vertical stroke goes through the top of the circle, the
meaning is "standby".

Best wishes,

Bruce Esrig

On 2/27/08, William Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> From electrical engineering. Its a closed circuit.
>
> will evans
> user experience architect
> wkevans4 at gmail.com
> 617.281.1281
>
>
> On Feb 27, 2008, at 5:37 PM, "Shaun Bergmann"
> <shaunbergmann at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
> > Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the
> > one: The
> > circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top
> > edge of the
> > circle.
> >
> > This icon was being incorporated into an interface and the argument
> > was made
> > that "not everybody is going to know what that icon means"
> >
> > That's totally possible. If anything stands out as a good example of
> > the
> > statement that there are no intuitive interfaces -- all interfaces are
> > learned -- it's this icon. The only reason people are going to know
> > that
> > it's the power button is because they know it's the power button.
> >
> > I looked at it's design from a fresh perspective today and really
> > have to
> > question WHY it's become so prevalent? Visually, it doesn't say
> > "power" to
> > me. Where'd this thing come from?
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
>

27 Feb 2008 - 5:33pm
Shaun Bergmann
2007

Thanks Bruce! that's exactly what I was looking for.

>"The source art for all the icons was extremely specific, and to be used in
its exact form and for its prescribed purpose. Circle used discretely was
for off; bar used discretely was for on; bar inside the circle >was reserved
for controls that provided power on/off on a single control, like a push
on/push off switch. As far as I know, anything else is a stylized
modification that was "inspired" by the ISO standard but >does not conform
to it."

Sounds to me like they decided to simply go with binary. 0/1 (or as put
here, Circle / Bar)

Neat idea, but I still don't like it. I won't even start about the issues I
have with the 1/0 power toggle on the back of most computers.

So, it's a standard. Suppose it's a bit of an uphill climb at this point
changing a standard, but it begs to question:
What would have been better?

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 3:09 PM, Bruce Esrig <esrig-ia at esrig.com> wrote:

> Bill DeRouchey asked this question just a few weeks ago and got some
> pretty
> authoritative answers. It traces back, most recently, to a harmonized
> standard that has been given different numbers by ISO and the IEEE.
>
> You can see the comments from industrial designers at
>
> http://www.historyofthebutton.com/2007/01/30/printer-icons-design-by-habit/
>
> According to the standards, the two components are a vertical stroke and a
> circle. When the vertical stroke goes through the top of the circle, the
> meaning is "standby".
>
> Best wishes,
>
> Bruce Esrig
>
> On 2/27/08, William Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > From electrical engineering. Its a closed circuit.
> >
> > will evans
> > user experience architect
> > wkevans4 at gmail.com
> > 617.281.1281
> >
> >
> > On Feb 27, 2008, at 5:37 PM, "Shaun Bergmann"
> > <shaunbergmann at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
> > > Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the
> > > one: The
> > > circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top
> > > edge of the
> > > circle.
> > >
> > > This icon was being incorporated into an interface and the argument
> > > was made
> > > that "not everybody is going to know what that icon means"
> > >
> > > That's totally possible. If anything stands out as a good example of
> > > the
> > > statement that there are no intuitive interfaces -- all interfaces are
> > > learned -- it's this icon. The only reason people are going to know
> > > that
> > > it's the power button is because they know it's the power button.
> > >
> > > I looked at it's design from a fresh perspective today and really
> > > have to
> > > question WHY it's become so prevalent? Visually, it doesn't say
> > > "power" to
> > > me. Where'd this thing come from?
> > > ________________________________________________________________
> > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

27 Feb 2008 - 5:38pm
Morten Hjerde
2007

Id say that the only awful thing about about the power symbol is that it is
misused by designers who presumably don't like the "look" of it. Its like
saying I don't like the letter A because visually it doesn't say "aaaaa" to
me.

The symbol is a standard. Power as such does not have any visual component
so the world has agreed on a fairly easily recognizable symbol and people
have just learned the meaning of it.

The symbol consists of a "1" which means "on" state and a "0" that means
"off" state. If the "1" is inside a "0" it means toggle on/off. The symbol
you describe is the standby symbol. You may of course invent your own, but
if you are going to use the power symbol, please use it correctly. Check
wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_symbol

Morten

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 11:58 PM, Shaun Bergmann <shaunbergmann at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Interesting.
> Unless I was designing something with the understanding that my ENTIRE
> audience was comprised of electrical engineers, I doubt I would think this
> is a very good design.
> Which brings me back to 'How did this awful thing get to be so widespread
> and popular?"
> Was there a particular product that used it once, way back in the dark
> ages,
> that injected it's branding and just beat the world population into
> understanding that "this means power"?
>
> On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 2:43 PM, William Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > From electrical engineering. Its a closed circuit.
> >
> > will evans
> > user experience architect
> > wkevans4 at gmail.com
> > 617.281.1281
> >
> >
> > On Feb 27, 2008, at 5:37 PM, "Shaun Bergmann"
> > <shaunbergmann at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
> > > Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the
> > > one: The
> > > circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top
> > > edge of the
> > > circle.
> > >
> > > This icon was being incorporated into an interface and the argument
> > > was made
> > > that "not everybody is going to know what that icon means"
> > >
> > > That's totally possible. If anything stands out as a good example of
> > > the
> > > statement that there are no intuitive interfaces -- all interfaces are
> > > learned -- it's this icon. The only reason people are going to know
> > > that
> > > it's the power button is because they know it's the power button.
> > >
> > > I looked at it's design from a fresh perspective today and really
> > > have to
> > > question WHY it's become so prevalent? Visually, it doesn't say
> > > "power" to
> > > me. Where'd this thing come from?
> > > ________________________________________________________________
> > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

27 Feb 2008 - 4:43pm
Scott Berkun
2008

If you read through all the comments here, you'll get some reasonable
answers.

http://www.beatnikpad.com/archives/2004/02/03/the_power_on_icon

-Scott

Scott Berkun
www.scottberkun.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Shaun Bergmann" <shaunbergmann at gmail.com>
To: <discuss at ixda.org>
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 2:37 PM
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Power icon

> A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
> Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the one:
The
> circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top edge of
the
> circle.

28 Feb 2008 - 12:19am
Shaun Bergmann
2007

What an interesting little journey into the depths of the ISO/IEEE Power
Control User Interface standard this topic started. The links that have
been posted here have been great, and I'm glad to see this topic has been
visited time and time again in various forums over the years, and that I'm
not the first person to have questioned it.

(It certainly goes to prove once again that sometimes the most seemingly
simple functions can be deviously shrouded in all sorts of complications.)
The reference to the standard that the Wikipedia link has four different
symbols for 'power on', 'power off', 'power on/off toggle' and 'power
on/standby toggle'.

Whether correctly implemented or not, it's the last of the above symbols
(the 'standby toggle') that we see most commonly applied to refer to
'power'.

According to the original standard, as Morten has pointed out, the symbol
I'm referring to would only be correctly implemented if it was strictly
referencing a toggle between "standby" and "power". The "power on" symbol
is simply a single vertical bar.

Well, the interface I am currently designing is a touchpanel which resides
in a lecturn for a large, publicly available conference room. The user will
be anybody who rents the space for a presentation, and they will not have
the luxury of being trained in how to use the system. The complexity of all
the equipment needs to be completely invisible to them, and the "Power on"
symbol on the only available button perfectly satisfied this requirement.

Until, of course, I realized that symbol would 'break' the standard. It's
not a toggle. The correct symbol is the vertical bar for that function.
I quickly redesigned the interface to be the vertical bar and held a quick
and dirty survey (ie: anybody walking past my workstation):
Nobody had any idea what the button meant, (one person said "I dunno, is
that the Eye of Sauron?") yet when I showed them the other 'wrong'
interface, they instantly recognized the "standby toggle" to mean "power".

I read the addendum on the standard, I was incredibly relieved to find that
there has been some pushes to incorporate the 'standby toggle' to simply
mean "power" if possible.

If there are safety considerations in the equipment you are controlling
where it's absolutely essential to indicate whether or not the hardware is
still being supplied by power there's a need to use the 4-state standard and
be very clear about the differences between 'power on', 'power off', 'power
on/off toggle' and 'power on/standby', but "when possible" it suggests using
the 'standby toggle' to simply mean power. Phew.

Here's another concise link for some of the same topic:
http://eepn.com/Locator/Products/Index.cfm?Ad=1&Ad=1&ArticleID=31710

Shaun

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 3:38 PM, Morten Hjerde <mhjerde at gmail.com> wrote:

> Id say that the only awful thing about about the power symbol is that it
> is
> misused by designers who presumably don't like the "look" of it. Its like
> saying I don't like the letter A because visually it doesn't say "aaaaa"
> to
> me.
>
> The symbol is a standard. Power as such does not have any visual component
> so the world has agreed on a fairly easily recognizable symbol and people
> have just learned the meaning of it.
>
> The symbol consists of a "1" which means "on" state and a "0" that means
> "off" state. If the "1" is inside a "0" it means toggle on/off. The symbol
> you describe is the standby symbol. You may of course invent your own, but
> if you are going to use the power symbol, please use it correctly. Check
> wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_symbol
>
> Morten
>
>
>
> On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 11:58 PM, Shaun Bergmann <shaunbergmann at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > Interesting.
> > Unless I was designing something with the understanding that my ENTIRE
> > audience was comprised of electrical engineers, I doubt I would think
> this
> > is a very good design.
> > Which brings me back to 'How did this awful thing get to be so
> widespread
> > and popular?"
> > Was there a particular product that used it once, way back in the dark
> > ages,
> > that injected it's branding and just beat the world population into
> > understanding that "this means power"?
> >
> > On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 2:43 PM, William Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > > From electrical engineering. Its a closed circuit.
> > >
> > > will evans
> > > user experience architect
> > > wkevans4 at gmail.com
> > > 617.281.1281
> > >
> > >
> > > On Feb 27, 2008, at 5:37 PM, "Shaun Bergmann"
> > > <shaunbergmann at gmail.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > > A discussion came up at the office today that got me wondering.
> > > > Do any of you know the history of the 'Power' Icon? You know the
> > > > one: The
> > > > circle with the vertical bar pointing up and overlapping the top
> > > > edge of the
> > > > circle.
> > > >
> > > > This icon was being incorporated into an interface and the argument
> > > > was made
> > > > that "not everybody is going to know what that icon means"
> > > >
> > > > That's totally possible. If anything stands out as a good example of
> > > > the
> > > > statement that there are no intuitive interfaces -- all interfaces
> are
> > > > learned -- it's this icon. The only reason people are going to know
> > > > that
> > > > it's the power button is because they know it's the power button.
> > > >
> > > > I looked at it's design from a fresh perspective today and really
> > > > have to
> > > > question WHY it's become so prevalent? Visually, it doesn't say
> > > > "power" to
> > > > me. Where'd this thing come from?
> > > > ________________________________________________________________
> > > > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > > > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > > > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > > > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > > > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> > >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Morten Hjerde
> http://sender11.typepad.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

28 Feb 2008 - 4:45am
Morten Hjerde
2007

>
> Whether correctly implemented or not, it's the last of the above symbols
> (the 'standby toggle') that we see most commonly applied to refer to
> 'power'.
>

Not 100% sure about "most commonly". But I'd accept "commonly".

The standby symbol is often seen on computers and monitors and interpreted
by most people as "power on/off", because, well, thats what it appears to
do. But in reality the device is set in standby mode and not turned
completely off (aka "Vampire Appliances"). I believe that in technical terms
the "power off" switch is required to disconnect the device from the mains
(or whatever power source it uses).

Interestingly, most mobile phones (Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG and
Blackberry) uses the "power on/off" symbol to turn the phone on or off.
Motorola used both, but seem to have settled for "power on/off". HTC and
Palm uses the "standby" symbol to turn the phone on or off.

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

28 Feb 2008 - 4:39am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Compare with the definitive origins of the Peace Symbol.

http://www.docspopuli.org/articles/PeaceSymbolArticle.html

How many know that it is stylized representation of the composite semaphore
signs for the letters 'N' and 'D', as in 'Nuclear Disarmament'? Or that at
one point, the Christian Cross was an option considered?

The symbol is widely recognized among certain cultures or subcultures. It
is even meaningful to anyone familiar with semaphore. But for most others,
it is pretty arbitrary. Nevertheless, it has taken on a life of its own.

Murli

--
murli nagasundaram, ph.d. | www.murli.com | murli at murli.com | +91 99 02 69
69 20

28 Feb 2008 - 1:39pm
Loren Baxter
2007

This may be the simplest form of an "engineering driven interface"
ever encountered. 1 vs 0? Closed vs open circuit? Show that symbol
to someone in an undeveloped country and it loses its meaning.

It's certainly easy to think of a more intuitive symbol using
natural phenomena rather than artificial. Use the sun: circle for
off, circle emitting rays for on. But I do wonder: how could such an
entrenched standard as the power symbol ever change?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26596

28 Feb 2008 - 3:16pm
Morten Hjerde
2007

Why would it lose its meaning in an underdeveloped country??

I think you would have to travel pretty far to find a country where people
didn't know the meaning of 0 and 1.
And if you where even able to find a country that didn't know 0 from 1,
didn't have engineers and didn't have electricity they wouldn't need a power
button anyway :-)
Btw, check out the symbol used on the power button on the One Laptop Per
Child.

I've thought a little bit about why I react to this discussion. I agree that
the symbol is very engineer-ish, not especially intuitive and not
particularly good looking. But as an IxD I jump at ANY chance to build on
prior knowledge, things people know. This symbol has been around for 40
years, is standardized, is culture-proof - interpreted in exactly the same
way over the entire globe. Are there more than a handful of other symbols in
the same league? The play/pause symbol qualifies I guess. Why would anyone
want to mess with a symbol that is universally recognized? Why not try to
fix the gazillion of things that are broken instead of breaking the few
things that work? I don't get it.

This is turning into a rant. Sorry! :-)

Morten

On Thu, 28 Feb 2008 11:39:21, Loren Baxter <loren.baxter at gmail.com> wrote:

> This may be the simplest form of an "engineering driven interface"
> ever encountered. 1 vs 0? Closed vs open circuit? Show that symbol
> to someone in an undeveloped country and it loses its meaning.
>
> It's certainly easy to think of a more intuitive symbol using
> natural phenomena rather than artificial. Use the sun: circle for
> off, circle emitting rays for on. But I do wonder: how could such an
> entrenched standard as the power symbol ever change?
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26596
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

28 Feb 2008 - 3:47pm
Katie Albers
2005

Considering I have actual relatives who would never in a million
years make the connection between on/off and 1/0, (and they are not
stupid, old, uneducated or otherwise outlying cases) I think it's
foolish to believe that this symbol is as universally comprehensible
as you would like to believe it is. It is certainly not "universally
recognized" or known.

Katie

>Why would it lose its meaning in an underdeveloped country??
>
>I think you would have to travel pretty far to find a country where people
>didn't know the meaning of 0 and 1.
>And if you where even able to find a country that didn't know 0 from 1,
>didn't have engineers and didn't have electricity they wouldn't need a power
>button anyway :-)
>Btw, check out the symbol used on the power button on the One Laptop Per
>Child.
>
>I've thought a little bit about why I react to this discussion. I agree that
>the symbol is very engineer-ish, not especially intuitive and not
>particularly good looking. But as an IxD I jump at ANY chance to build on
>prior knowledge, things people know. This symbol has been around for 40
>years, is standardized, is culture-proof - interpreted in exactly the same
>way over the entire globe. Are there more than a handful of other symbols in
>the same league? The play/pause symbol qualifies I guess. Why would anyone
>want to mess with a symbol that is universally recognized? Why not try to
>fix the gazillion of things that are broken instead of breaking the few
>things that work? I don't get it.
>
>This is turning into a rant. Sorry! :-)
>
>Morten

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

28 Feb 2008 - 5:12am
cfmdesigns
2004

Gee, that's helpful. "Standby" — even if a user knew that's what it
meant — is only marginally more useful than "closed circuit" (again,
if the user even knows that's what if symbol means, and then what the
term itself means).

And thus, "what it means" isn't of any use here. To the majority of
users, it is just a nonsense icon that "means" "power". (It shows on
the "glare reduction" button on the mirror in our current rental car,
in fact.) But it has become widespread enough -- I've seen it on
computer switches for a decade now -- that it is the de facto
standard that users now expect (if they expect anything).

The only generic user-created deciphering of the icon that I've heard
created which makes sense is "it's a toggle switch" — a circle with a
flip switch in the middle. Since pressing the button typically
toggles the power on and off, that's at least a "meaning" that
generic users can often grasp.

-- Jim Drew
Seattle, WA (but currently in Ireland)

On Feb 27, 2008, at 11:09 PM, Bruce Esrig wrote:

> According to the standards, the two components are a vertical
> stroke and a
> circle. When the vertical stroke goes through the top of the
> circle, the
> meaning is "standby".

28 Feb 2008 - 3:03pm
Anonymous

This is relevant to a reorganization of my division at the University
of Washington. We were formerly the artist known as "Computing and
Communications." We're now "UW Technology." The fun, however, has been
the new logo incorporating a "power" icon.

It appears here with all the requisite verbiage, http://www.washington.edu/uwtech/
, but you can see it without scrolling here: http://www.washington.edu/uwtech/images/ovpuwt_pref_rgb_205w.gif
.

At least one person thought that it was a cannonball-bomb with a fuse.
Other people wondered have wondered if the icon looked on or off.

--
Jody Tate
Web Developer - UW Network Systems
http://staff.washington.edu/jtate/

28 Feb 2008 - 5:31pm
Loren Baxter
2007

> I think you would have to travel pretty far to find
> a country where people didn't know the meaning of
> 0 and 1.
And if you where even able to find a country
> that didn't know 0 from 1, didn't have engineers and
> didn't have electricity they wouldn't need a power
> button anyway :-)

To be honest, I didn't even know that it is a 0 / 1 until I read this
discussion. If they are a zero and one, they should look like real letters,
not abstract shapes. Zeros are generally not perfect circles, in almost any
standard font.

In any case, once one learns that they are a 0 / 1, they must then find the
proper mapping. Which one is off, and which is on? 0 should be off, 1
should be on, but I can't say whether that transfers across cultures. I
understand that the concept of zero has different backgrounds across the
world and is quite different in the East.

Then there's the added confusion of closed and open circuits. In that case,
it should be the opposite (the 0 or closed circuit means on).

I definitely see where you're coming from with standardization, but I've
never felt that it was a good standard. Sometimes the status quo simply
isn't good enough; I think the power icon is a fine candidate for that.

28 Feb 2008 - 5:57pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Feb 28, 2008, at 3:31 PM, Loren Baxter wrote:

> I definitely see where you're coming from with standardization, but
> I've
> never felt that it was a good standard. Sometimes the status quo
> simply
> isn't good enough; I think the power icon is a fine candidate for
> that.

This thread has now entering the silly realm.

The symbols for On, Off, Toggle On/Off and Standby are elegant,
simple, clean, easy to draw and can be used anywhere and under any
condition. The fact designers and others have used them incorrectly
is an entirely separate problem.

Creating symbols that are general enough, can work under any print or
manufacturing process while also being clear and not easily confused
with OTHER standard symbols that have been defined -- while also
being reasonably culturally agnostic -- is extraordinarily difficult.
The folks who created these particular symbols did an amazing job
solving this problem.

A long time ago, I made the decision at Adobe to propagate the "new"
icon across all the products. It's the rectangle with the "page tear"
in the corner. Does that symbol mean "new." Good luck trying to find
anything that means "new." You pick a symbol based a few criteria, a
large part of which is due to it simplicity to draw it, then spend
literally years, often times decades, making it a standard.

Question: How is the symbol for the letter "A" intuitive or meaningful?

Answer: It's not. Someone a long time ago drew it, probably some
despot liked it or otherwise forced it onto his people, those people
won a lot of wars and the symbol stuck. After that, you were
basically taught at a very early age that "A" was the symbol for the
letter A. And it took you a long time to learn all those symbols in
the alphabet while you were in grade school, but thankfully you were
young and less inclined to argue about how intuitive the symbol was
based solely on nothing more than your own personal opinion or
experience.

In other words, the symbol had already made its way into the culture
and you learned it like you and everyone else learned all those other
symbols: You were taught what it meant by someone else.

The On, Off, Toggle On/Off, and Standby symbols are elegant, simple
and very useful, and are a standard in the engineering and
manufacturing industry. Trying to go against them -- especially now
that they are legitimate standards -- is the largest possible waste
of time imho. I think we simply need to learn what they are and use
them properly.

The faster designers do that, the faster they will become "intuitive"
in society at large as people are taught what the symbols mean.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

28 Feb 2008 - 7:28pm
gretchen anderson
2005

Thought Bill DeRouchey's Language of Interaction was relevant here:
http://www.languageofinteraction.com/

As he points out designers/IxDers are the curators of the language of
interaction, and our usage of symbols is part of the process of teaching
them to people. A triangle for "Play" is only the accepted standard
because it is, not because that symbol is inherently "play-like".

I only recently heard about the 0/1 bit, but that's never interfered
with my usage of a power button.

His piece is really worth a read...

28 Feb 2008 - 8:32pm
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Until I moved to the US from India in 1986, I don't recall having
encountered the 0/1 power symbol more than a couple of times. Even today,
the symbol is quite rare except on computers and some other digital
products. Many educated people in India could probably guess at the meaning
of the symbol but the use or awareness of the symbol is far from universal
in land of over a billion people (and a rapidly emerging market for consumer
durables).

This is not a rant against the 'Standard Power Symbol' -- it's simply to
take note that naive assumptions about universality and a dismissive
attitude towards raising questions about the issue are very similar to the
attitude of some system developers who view users as being 'losers' and if
they are unable to appropriately use a system then its their own problem.

Language and symbology does take time to permeate through society,
particularly a large, diverse, complex one. While most symbols are at least
somewhat arbitrary, the 'right arrow/right-pointing triangle' used for the
PLAY button is much less so -- pointing and arrows developed early enough in
the evolution of the species that the symbol could be considered
'universal'. The Pause and Stop symbols, however, are pretty darned
arbitrary -- the mapping to the real functions is cognitively more taxing.

Sitting here in my parents' home in India, I can step out of the house and
point at any random person outside and be fairly certain that they don't
understand the 0/1 symbol. This situation is unlikely to change for a long
while. Indeed, I am pretty sure that they are more likely to associate the
power function with a button colored RED than one with an arbitrary symbol
slapped on it. The association of a color or more primeval shape with a
fundamental function such as power on/off is more likely than its
association with an arbitrary symbol.

Speaking of learning arbitrary conventions: Power switches in India follow
the British standard of turning on if the switch is down and turning off it
is up -- the reverse of what obtains in the Americas. While one's mind
quickly learns this distinction, muscle memory is quite another thing. The
reliance on arbitrary symbols in a critical, possibly catastrophic situation
is fraught with peril, especially if quick reflexes are essential to contain
a rapidly emergent problem.

I learned to drive on the left hand side of the road in India and then had
to learn to drive on the other side in the US. I'm pretty good at switching
sides when I travel across the oceans and choose to drive. But I know a lot
of people who refuse to drive in one or another country because they don't
trust their reflexes. And if you choose to drive in India, you'd better
have good reflexes -- and a calm, unruffled, mind.

I live with my aged parents in India now. Every day -- and indeed several
times a day -- I encounter situations that they are unable to cope with
because of an inability to deal with arbitrary symbols or conventions, or
complex processes. Generalizing design principles from a Web 2.0 user base
of twenty-something, college-educated, Americans leaves a whole lot of
people out in the cold.

- murli

28 Feb 2008 - 9:04pm
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

I'm guessing you eat donuts and muffins for breakfast and take your coffee
black -- isn't that what everybody does? ;-)

Growing up in India, we used to use this thing that apparently came on wires
-- though I have never actually see it with my eyes, I kinda believe the
wise people who assured us it did. We used to attach the wires to a set of
holes in the wall that the Village Elders told us never to explore because
there were Evil Demons present in there. Perhaps because of their Evil
Nature, the Wise Ones chose never to place any symbol next to the Wall
Holes, lest the symbols imbue the Evil Demons with more vengeful power than
they already possessed.

Since the Gods have now decreed that there is No Other Way to graphically
represent an On/Off switch I think we should hereafter accept it as our
totem.

Sorry to sound like a troll, but I am amused by the 'No Other Way'
perspective among some designers. I think it is possible to both
acknowledge that there might be few options but to learn an arbitrarily
developed symbol as well as understand and accept that there are going to be
issues relating to having it universally recognized. This is just being
realistic. Designing while esconced in an ivory tower is not particularly
useful.

Regards,

murli

On Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 8:16 AM, Weixi Yen <weixiyen at gmail.com> wrote:

> ...I'm guessing you don't use a power outlet ;)
>
> I don't see why there is so much hesitation to use the icon. For whatever
> reason or other, this circle IO has become a standard. Anyone who uses
> electricity (and those would be people using web apps) has probably
> encounted it. That's why it is safe to use in the OP's situation.
>
> Also...
>
> http://images.google.com/images?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=power+icon&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi
>
> There's really no other way to graphically represent an On/Off switch...
>

--
murli nagasundaram, ph.d. | www.murli.com | murli at murli.com | +91 99 02 69
69 20

29 Feb 2008 - 3:30am
Morten Hjerde
2007

In semiotic terms the "symbol" we are discussing is a "sign". The iconic representation of a sign does not relate to any real world object or phenomenon. Its meaning has to be learned. An exclamation mark for example is a sign. A "symbol" in semiotic terms is a (simplified) representation of a real world object. A crescent moon is a symbol used to represent night or sleep. (It also has a lot of other culturally dependent meanings!) 90% of all iconic representations around us are signs, not symbols.

The "on/off" sign is universally recognized and agreed upon. It does not need to be fixed, if anything it should be reinforced. Hell, even the poster child of usability, the iPhone, use 1 and 0 to represent on and off.

Several posters here want a power on/off symbol that does not have to be learned but can be understood "intuitively". Finding a real-world object that can represent an abstract concept like "on/off" is really hard, if not impossible.

28 Feb 2008 - 7:29pm
timoni
2008

> In any case, once one learns that they are a 0 / 1, they must then find
> the
> proper mapping. Which one is off, and which is on? 0 should be off, 1
> should be on, but I can't say whether that transfers across cultures. I
> understand that the concept of zero has different backgrounds across the
> world and is quite different in the East.

That's a good point. Although the fact that the graphic shows one
interrupting the other simply indicates a change of state--so really, it
doesn't matter which signifies "on" and which signifies "off".

28 Feb 2008 - 8:46pm
Weixi Yen
2007

...I'm guessing you don't use a power outlet ;)

I don't see why there is so much hesitation to use the icon. For whatever
reason or other, this circle IO has become a standard. Anyone who uses
electricity (and those would be people using web apps) has probably
encounted it. That's why it is safe to use in the OP's situation.

Also...
http://images.google.com/images?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=power+icon&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi

There's really no other way to graphically represent an On/Off switch...

29 Feb 2008 - 4:12am
Anonymous

There seem to be two things here:

1) When should we set/accept/challenge standards?

2) How much how people have to learn to interact with these abstract
ideas that are so new in our evolution, and how much should be
metaphor?

Personally, I would want to go with the
broken-circle-with-vertical-bar representation. It is a standard whose
'etymology' is based upon the engineering notation that have allowed
these things to exist in the first place. It is becoming more and more
widely used. It is visually distinct: OK, I can only speak for the
roman alphabet and the symbolism that I have encountered over my
lifetime, so there would be more investigation needed here. It is
simple and elegant (a little subjective, but _I_ think it's elegant).

Do we need to re-visit the symbol? The representation is consistent
with the on/off 1/0 yes/no that is intrinsic to computers and is
fairly unique to the man-made realm. You can't switch a goat off and
on again. And what else could you use? What represents power or
something functioning? Lightning? I would associate that with danger.
The army? Inappropriate. An engine? Well, perhaps, but the association
is a bit ropey.

What does everyone think?

Alex.

29 Feb 2008 - 8:09am
bminihan
2007

I think it looks a little like an ashtray...

Which reminds me of the unfortunate name our team adopted at my last
company...Global Application Services. We especially liked sending out
emails right before promoting new software, called "GAS Release alerts".

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Power icon

At least one person thought that it was a cannonball-bomb with a fuse.
Other people wondered have wondered if the icon looked on or off.

--
Jody Tate
Web Developer - UW Network Systems
http://staff.washington.edu/jtate/

29 Feb 2008 - 8:50am
Michele Marut
2005

Some great user research on power icons was done by the group who developed
the IEEE 1621, the "Power Control User Interface" standard.
(offical name:*Standard for User Interface Elements in Power Control of
Electronic Devices Employed in Office/Consumer Environments)*
**

See

http://eetd.lbl.gov/Controls/publications/pubsindex.html

- Michele Marut

29 Feb 2008 - 9:12am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Alex, great questions, and more importantly, what I would consider the
proper attitude. And I also like how you have presented your perspective as
a personal one and not pretend to speak for entire populations or all of
humankind. I think this is one good way to make progress in a contentious
setting (dropping bombs on and imprisoning protestors being another way,
although not a very healthy one).

I will just speak to one thing that popped out of your message: "What
represents power or something functioning? Lightning?"

As a matter of fact, there is just one word in Hindi and Urdu for both
"lightning" and "electricity" -- the word is 'bijlee'. Who'da thunk,
hunh?! So for Hindi/Urdu speakers (who live in Northern India and much of
Pakistan) a lighting flash symbol is likely to work well.

Just how did you know, Alex? ;-)

- murli

On Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 3:42 PM, Alexander Livingstone <
adl.ixda at googlemail.com> wrote:

What represents power or
> something functioning? Lightning? I would associate that with danger.
>
> Alex.
>

--
murli nagasundaram, ph.d. | www.murli.com | murli at murli.com | +91 99 02 69
69 20

29 Feb 2008 - 10:44am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Feb 28, 2008, at 6:32 PM, Murli Nagasundaram wrote:

> Until I moved to the US from India in 1986, I don't recall having
> encountered the 0/1 power symbol more than a couple of times.

Given that the symbols were defined in the early 1970s, and it's now
2008 where they've finally seen the kind of widespread adoption to be
more universal... I'm not exactly sure what your point is bringing up
1986.

That was two years after the first mainstream GUI was introduced by
Apple. That's a lifetime ago in the digital industry. That's more
than 20 years ago now.

> Even today,
> the symbol is quite rare except on computers and some other digital
> products.

The symbols are not rare. They are near ubiquitous. They are on
nearly everything that has an electronic component or requires
electricity these days. Nearly every modern appliance now uses these
symbols.

> This is not a rant against the 'Standard Power Symbol' -- it's
> simply to
> take note that naive assumptions about universality and a dismissive
> attitude towards raising questions about the issue are very similar
> to the
> attitude of some system developers who view users as being 'losers'
> and if
> they are unable to appropriately use a system then its their own
> problem.

The IEC and IEEE develop standards with far more rigor and process
than anyone in this young field of IxD ever does. Getting standards
passed with the IEC is tough, and they put a lot of thought into the
things they do.

> Language and symbology does take time to permeate through society,
> particularly a large, diverse, complex one. While most symbols are
> at least
> somewhat arbitrary, the 'right arrow/right-pointing triangle' used
> for the
> PLAY button is much less so -- pointing and arrows developed early
> enough in
> the evolution of the species that the symbol could be considered
> 'universal'. The Pause and Stop symbols, however, are pretty darned
> arbitrary -- the mapping to the real functions is cognitively more
> taxing.

Entirely made up. You are picking and choosing your reasoning without
concrete, factual, researched evidence to back it up.

> Sitting here in my parents' home in India, I can step out of the
> house and
> point at any random person outside and be fairly certain that they
> don't
> understand the 0/1 symbol.

Give India another 20 years and I'm sure they will. The symbols were
developed in the early 1970s and it hasn't been until late the 1990s
that most people in the United States started understanding them better.

It takes time. There are no shortcuts.

> This situation is unlikely to change for a long while.

See above.

> I live with my aged parents in India now. Every day -- and indeed
> several
> times a day -- I encounter situations that they are unable to cope
> with
> because of an inability to deal with arbitrary symbols or
> conventions, or
> complex processes. Generalizing design principles from a Web 2.0
> user base
> of twenty-something, college-educated, Americans leaves a whole lot of
> people out in the cold.

The power symbols were developed by experienced professionals in the
well established field of engineering in the early 1970s. The symbols
are not arbitrary, and had a lot of thought and process put into
developing them, just like a lot of the other standards put into place.

Your logic simply does not stand.

Honestly... it's threads like this and random, arbitrary, unfounded
logic or selective picking of whatever reason one feels like without
knowing the history of the thing that gives designers a bad name in
the eyes of engineers.

Stop it.

Please.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

29 Feb 2008 - 11:59am
Bill DeRouchey
2010

It's interesting that people want to rethink the Power icon even
though it's not a literal metaphor of "power." Yes, it's not globally
accepted yet, but it's as close to a standard as we've got. We have so
few standards, I prefer to adapt wherever possible.

I'd rather spend time trying to rethink the Setup or Configure icon
that is usually displayed as gears or a wrench/spanner. To me, the
latter implies that my product is broken and I need to fix it. That's
definitely the wrong metaphor. There has to be something better than
that.

Or to look at the problem another way, there is nothing inherent in an
octagon that says STOP, yet if you showed a red octagon to anybody,
they'd likely interpret it as stop. It took decades for that to become
"standard", but time passes and it happens through repeated use.

To me, the goal is a universal language for interaction so we can
spend less time redefining the meaning of every element and instead
assemble those elements into a beautiful/intuitive/useful experience.

- Bill

29 Feb 2008 - 11:57am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Until I joined this conversation I had not noticed the difference between
the power on/off and standby symbols. Yes, now I can see the difference,
but I had no idea before that the two were significantly different. And I
was trained as a (mechanical) engineer.

It's far too subtle a difference for most (regular) people. The symbol also
looks vaguely sexual, although this is probably just my mind.

-murli

On Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 7:39 PM, Bryan Minihan <bjminihan at nc.rr.com> wrote:

> I think it looks a little like an ashtray...
>
>

29 Feb 2008 - 12:52pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Feb 29, 2008, at 9:59 AM, Bill DeRouchey wrote:

> I'd rather spend time trying to rethink the Setup or Configure icon
> that is usually displayed as gears or a wrench/spanner. To me, the
> latter implies that my product is broken and I need to fix it. That's
> definitely the wrong metaphor. There has to be something better than
> that.
>

How about the Save icon? It's often still a 3.25" floppy disk, which
probably befuddles the heck out of anyone born after, say 1985. :)

Dan

29 Feb 2008 - 12:53pm
Shaun Bergmann
2007

> Some great user research on power icons was done by
> the group who developed the IEEE 1621, the "Power
> Control User Interface" standard. (offical name:*Standard
> for User Interface Elements in Power Control of Electronic
> Devices Employed in Office/Consumer Environments)
> *

I printed out that 55 page document on Wednesday, and it is probably
the best source of information I was able to find on the matter.
Specifically, on page 26 where it states:

>"3.4 The User Interface Standard Content
>Key elements of the User Interface Standard %u2014 the static
>interface %u2014 are to:
>Use only three power states when possible: On, Off, and >Sleep.
>Use the word "Power" for terminology about power.
>%u2022 Redefine the ('standby') symbol to mean %u201Cpower%u201D
as for >power buttons and power indicators; use
>the symbol (on/off) only when necessary."

As much of a contentious issue this seems to have become, I think
what it's served is bringing to the surface the fact that the
'signs' that have been incorporated as standards for power are far
from being universally (or even just globally) recognized.

As an interaction designer, I strive to ALWAYS adhere to the
standards that are already in place when doing whatever it is I do.
Unfortunately, in this case, if I were to have stuck to that strict
adherence, the product would have taken a fairly significant hit in
usability:
As I'd mentioned before, my users are most likely only going to use
this product once. (for the duration of their rental of the
conference room). Therefore, there were two options
1. Design it using the original standard with the vertical bar '1'
to 'power on' the system, knowing that the majority of users will
not immediately recognize that sign and will be somewhat confused,
but still get some satisfaction as an evangelist knowing that there
is now one more person in the world that has walked away with a new
knowledge and understanding of the icon. (go tell it on the
mountain!)
2. Forget the icon altogether and put the word "Start". Not nearly
as elegant, and the convention center could have people coming from
any country speaking any language, so not ideal.

Thankfully the referenced document pointed out the fact that the
Standby icon is perfectly acceptable.

I think the very fact that the standard has shifted a bit and is now
suggesting that the standby icon can sort of be the 'master' for
power speaks to the fact that there has been a history of confusion
over this set of signs.

I wasn't there, but I'm sure there was a lot of thought and
discourse put into the creation of this set of standards way back
when.
Are they ideal? Thus far they don't appear to be.
Do I have any better suggestions? Nope. Perhaps if the creation of
the standard were to happen today with this level of international
communication the group could come up with something better, but as
it stands... these are the standards and I am happy to live with the
"you can use 'Standby' if you need to" addendum.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26596

29 Feb 2008 - 1:02pm
Shaun Bergmann
2007

I think it's flippin me the bird.

On Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 9:57 AM, Murli Nagasundaram <murliman at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Until I joined this conversation I had not noticed the difference between
> the power on/off and standby symbols. Yes, now I can see the difference,
> but I had no idea before that the two were significantly different. And I
> was trained as a (mechanical) engineer.
>
> It's far too subtle a difference for most (regular) people. The symbol
> also
> looks vaguely sexual, although this is probably just my mind.
>
> -murli
>
> On Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 7:39 PM, Bryan Minihan <bjminihan at nc.rr.com>
> wrote:
>
> > I think it looks a little like an ashtray...
> >
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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>

29 Feb 2008 - 1:02pm
Weixi Yen
2007

I'd argue that it is a global standard for populations using *computers* to
access the internet, which makes it very safe globally in any web
application.

Alot of this argument revolves around the battle between idealists and
realists.

Realist: There's no better way to do this...
Idealist: You can't say that! THERE'S ALWAYS A WAY. You're just not
creative enough and you are close minded! Bad Designer!
Realist: okay... show me a better way
Idealist: ... well back in 1970's when I was in India ... P.S. - YOU eat
muffins and drink coffee so there!

Anyways ;) --- I still think using a different power icon is like fighting
an uphill battle that is both pointless as it is futile.

29 Feb 2008 - 1:13pm
jonesabi
2006

How about the Save icon? It's often still a 3.25" floppy disk, which
> probably befuddles the heck out of anyone born after, say 1985. :)

A few years ago, when I was still a teacher, our school had PCs that used
floppy disks. It was really nice to hold up a floppy disk as a visual
reference for saving. Those kids I taught were born in 1995.

Moving to Palo Alto definitely opened my eyes to the differences in how
people view technology here and how they see it in a rural border town. Here
people Twitter rather than text message, assuming that everyone has an
iPhone or n95.

But you're right Dan, the floppy disk is outdated. The more I try to come up
with a visual model for 'save' the more I think about synapses in a brain,
firing away. Perhaps in the future, when the documents we make find and
create their own parallels between eachother, the icon for save could be a
stylized neuron, firing on use. Or maybe we could just think 'save' and do
away with icons altogether.

-Abi Jones

29 Feb 2008 - 1:29pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Feb 29, 2008, at 1:52 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> How about the Save icon? It's often still a 3.25" floppy disk, which
> probably befuddles the heck out of anyone born after, say 1985. :)

Yes!! Can we make it a 2008 goal of IxDA to create a standard save
icon that replaces the floppy before it becomes THE STANDARD by
default? Or is it too late?

Only half kidding,
Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

Design is a process -
an intimate collaboration between
engineers, designers, and clients.

- Henry Dreyfuss

29 Feb 2008 - 2:48pm
Jeff Seager
2007

One of my favorite books on this or any subject is "Man and His
Symbols," by Carl Jung, dealing with universal archetypes.

Abi said: "The more I try to come up with a visual model for
'save' the more I think about synapses in a brain, firing away."

Or a piggy bank. Or a squirrel. Or (ducking) Jesus ...

/ idealistic realist and apparent blasphemer

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26596

29 Feb 2008 - 2:30pm
Anonymous

> > How about the Save icon? It's often still a 3.25" floppy disk, which
> > probably befuddles the heck out of anyone born after, say 1985. :)
>
> Yes!! Can we make it a 2008 goal of IxDA to create a standard save
> icon that replaces the floppy before it becomes THE STANDARD by
> default? Or is it too late?

Hmm, don't we need to get rid of 'save' altogether?

If you write on a bit of paper, the writing stays, you don't need to hit save.

I want to lose the instinctive CTRL-S twitch that I have!

Alex.

29 Feb 2008 - 2:20pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Weixi Yen wrote:
> Alot of this argument revolves around the battle
> between idealists and realists.

http://tinyurl.com/2y4j2n

// jeff

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26596

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