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Familant, M. E., & Detweiler, M. C. (1993). Iconic reference: Evolving perspectives and an organizing framework. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 39(5), 705–728. 
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard (8/24/05, 2:22 PM)   Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Familant1993
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Categories: General, Semiology, Typologies/Taxonomies
Keywords: Iconography
Creators: Detweiler, Familant
Collection: International Journal of Man-Machine Studies
Resources citing this (Bibliography: WIKINDX Master Bibliography)
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"Icons are now routinely used in human-computer interactions. Despite their widespread use, however, we argue that icons are far more diverse and complex than normally realized. This article examines some of the history behind the evolution of icons from simple pictures to much richer and more complex representational devices. Then we develop and present a new framework that distinguishes: (1) different kinds of sign relations; (2) different kinds of referent relations; and (3) differences between sign and referent relations. In addition, we highlight a fundamental symmetry between icons and symbols, and use this framework to raise a number of basic questions about the kinds of representational issues and challenges designers will need to consider as they create the next generation of icons for user interfaces."
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
An overview of icon usage in computer interfaces. Discussion of semiotic principles in computer icons and other signs and a taxonomy to aid in icon design. Refers solely to pictorial icons. Some useful figures aid in understanding this paper.
Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard  Last edited by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard

Contains a critique of other iconic taxonomies including Gaver and Blattner et al. (Gaver 1986; Blattner, Sumikawa, & Greenberg 1989). The suggestion is that they fail in distinguishing between sign and referent relations. The authors propose a taxonomy including:

  • Direct reference: Signal ----> Sign Referent/Denotative Referent (identical referents).
  • Indirect reference: Signal ---->Sign Referent ----> Denotative Referent.

The referent relation (between Sign and Denotative referents) can be:

  • Part-part: S and D share a subset of features.
  • Part-whole: all the features of S are a subset of D.
  • Whole-part: all the features of D are a subset of S.
  • Identical: S and D have the same set features.
  • Disjoint: S and D have no features in common.

based on commonalities (or not) between feature sets of S and D. The most common signs are part-part and part-whole.

Blattner, M. M., Sumikawa, D. A., & Greenberg, R. M. (1989). Earcons and icons: Their structure and common design principles. Human-computer Interaction, 4, 11–44.
Gaver, W. W. (1986). Auditory icons: Using sound in computer interfaces. Human-computer Interaction, 2, 167–177.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
Keywords:   Iconography Semantic categorization
pp.706–709   Some discussion of the use of the term 'icon' in semiotic terms and in general (computer) usage.   Added by: Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard
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