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2.8 IconText

IconText by Colin Beardon is a visual language which allows authoring of complex messages through use of relations. ``It allows a message to be read in two distinct ways - as a static hypertextual message that can be explored at leisure, or as an animation that will reveal the message as a sequence over time.''[Bea95] It is structured in concepts, objects, events, events, and relations.

  • Concepts are icons which refer to things in the world and are grouped in a scrapbook (see Figure 2.18).
  • Objects are built by putting concepts into an object window, which contains a head term and icons for its modifiers (see Figure2.19).
  • Events are represented by an event window which allows animated representation of its content. Each event has a different window with slots to be filled with objects or remain empty. Figure 2.20 shows the event window for ``moving''.
  • Relations are divided into two subtypes: ``semantic'' and ``textual''. Semantic relations refer to situations in the world whereas textual relations refer to the author-reader relationship. Figure 2.21 shows an example relation window.

Figure 2.18: IconText: Concepts grouped in a scrapbook.

Figure 2.19: IconText: Object window for ``black car''.

Figure 2.20: IconText: Event window ``A man went to a city''

Figure 2.21: IconText: Relation window: ``Moving an object took place at the same time as a physical transfer''

IconText allows the author to nominate a (custom) icon specifically to refer to an object. Such icons are called naming icons. Naming icons can be used in other windows just like concept icons. Readers have the ability to interactively explore the meaning of naming icons by viewing the referenced object window.

In events which use an instrument, such as ``John drove his black car to London'', IconText adopts Schank's approach which restricts the instrument slots to events [Sch73]. The instrument is not shown as an explicit icon but is placed on a stack of events immediately behind the current event. In Figure 2.20 a stacked event window showing a car going to London is hidden behind the current window.

IconText takes advantage of physical relations such as space, time, and causality to provide a rich ontology. Readers have the additional freedom to explore IconText messages in different ways: as structured (hypertext) message or as an animation just like watching a movie. The ability to create naming icons and use of stacked events can hide complexity and generate more abstract messages. Its rigid structure lends itself to computer aided information processing, data mining, and knowledge discovery.

next up previous contents
Next: 2.9 MUSLI as Suggested Up: 2. Visual Languages Previous: 2.7 Vedo-Vidi   Contents
Arno Hollosi 2001-01-09