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Jonathan Tang September 25, 2005 Eng 393 - Harris Information Age In the world today, technology is forever changing. Computers and electronics bought mere months ago become old and obsolete in the blink of an eye. With the movement of technological advancement, information becomes more abundant and accessible. The field of information systems (study of the computer systems that support everyday information flow) directly affects daily lives around the world - for schools, businesses, and corporations alike. The efficiency and effectiveness of an information system is pertinent to the operations of an institution. With information playing such an important role this day in age, it is becoming more and more personified through the use of metaphors - which is defined as the substitution of one idea or object with another, used to assist expression or understanding (knowgramming.com). By expressing the similarities of technology and information in our common lives, society is able to relate to the usefulness and importance that this field brings to us. New Meaning Using metaphorical references gives new representation to an object, a place, an event, etc... The substitution between two things almost gives a new definition or meaning to the phrase created. Take for example “couch potato;” surely this doesn’t mean a potato grown from a couch (knowgramming.com/metaphors), but rather it defines a person who is lazy and unwilling to move from the confines of his/her seat. A “rug rat” isn’t a rat that lives or plays in a rug or on rugs (knowgramming.com/metaphors), but rather it refers to babies due to their inability to walk and so they spend most of their time crawling on the rug or on the floor. When people say “money talks,” they aren’t referring to the idea that your dollar bills or your twenty dollar bills can speak to you or anyone else (www.des.emory.edu). It means that money can speak louder than any words can, whether it is for payment, a bribe, or even a donation. The discussed idea of new definition and meaning is especially evident in the world of information systems. Effect on Society Dependence on machines and technological advancements grow more and more each day. Systems are built to better lives and simplify work. Some of the manual labors that once existed now become automated. It is evident that information systems have changed the way of living through the years. As a result, the internet is called the “information superhighway” (philosophy.uoregon.edu/metaphor/iclacnf4.htm). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a roadway that individuals take to work or school. It’s simply a metaphor that describes how one can travel through the net to a different destination (i.e. jumping from a website in America to a website in Denmark). A highway also represents an innovation that simplifies travel. It was created as a faster and more efficient way to get from one destination to another. The internet being regarded as the information superhighway has its merits. Through the keyboard and mouse we are able to search thousands of websites and retrieve millions of resources on subjects that before took us days, if not weeks to get from a local library; it builds a “highway” from homes and offices to information sources at a click of a mouse button. The information system as an efficient and simplifying entity comes into light when it is referred as “the information system is a mill,” (www.econ.uba.ar). A mill is defined as a factory, any machine, or building fitted with machinery for manufacturing processes (Oxford, 1977). A mill is an example of an entity or institution that provides an efficient and simple way to produce goods. The information system being referred to the mill is for its capability to large quantities of information efficiently and effectively. Sometimes the most subtle things represent a type of similarity to everyday life. The desktop of a computer where you can throw away “trash” into the recycle bin, represents a likeness in our lives that no one would think about (philosophy.uoregon.edu/metaphor/gui4web.htm). The simple pick up and dropping of trash into the trashcan can be signified through the computer in the process we know as “drag and drop,” where one drags the item and drops it into the recycle bin. This similarity created by software programmers such as Microsoft and Apple, personifies the usage of personal computers to real life. It can be viewed as a way of alleviating the learning curve in having to think too much about the technicalities of operating a computer. Rather than finding a file and deleting it manually by command lines or text, a user is given the same motion of throwing out trash on his PC as one would do in real life. Future and Beyond Technology is constantly evolving and along with it information systems must evolve too. Information systems will continue to influence institutions for years to come. The continued use of metaphors in describing and furthering of technological innovations will create a better understanding of the concepts and usages behind what would be complex inventions. Works Cited: “Funny Metaphors.” Welcome to the Adventures of a Sci-Phi Pilot. 1997. 18 September 2005 <http://knowgramming.com/metaphors/metaphor_chapters/funny_metaphors.htm>. “Common and Silly Metaphors.” Division of Educational Studies, Emory University. 2005. 18 September 2005 <http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/303/303metaphors.pdf> Rohrer, Tim. “Conceptual Blending on the Information Highway: How Metaphorical Inferences Work.” 1997. 16 September 2005 <http://philosophy.uoregon.edu/metaphor/iclacnf4.htm>. Rohrer, Tim. “Metaphors we compute by: bringing magic into interface design.” 1995. 18 September 2005 <http://philosophy.uoregon.edu/metaphor/gui4web.htm>. Gazendam, Henk. “Information System Metaphors.” 2000. 18 September 2005 <http://www.econ.uba.ar/servicios/publicaciones/journal3/contents/HGazendam/methaph ors.htm>. Oxford 1977Unpublished PhD Thesis, Eindhoven: Technische Hogeschool Eindhoven. Audience Analysis The audience possesses a basic fundamental knowledge of computers and Information Systems. They are educated adults and UMBC students. Their ages range from 17 to 55 years and include both males and females. In depth knowledge in computers is not needed for the enjoyment of this paper. This report was created to bring attention to the importance and effect of information systems in our everyday lives. The information provided is available to any individual interested in computers and information systems. The audience will gain insight on the significance of information systems and how metaphors are used to demonstrate that ideal.
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