Riddle me this: why is it so freakin’ hard to nail a visual metaphor?

Today at work, I was trying to describe something in words that I could clearly see in my mind to an artist we have engaged to develop an animation for our product.

And, not for the first time in the recent past, words failed the normally loquacious Alex. No matter what analogies I drew, no matter how colorful the language I used, I just could not get what was in my head into words. Normally, I don’t have this problem. It wasn’t the artist — he’s good at taking input. It isn’t the fact that our technology is hard to describe; really, our stuff is easy to understand.

It just felt like every visual metaphor we came up with was a platitude. Trees for hierarchies; clouds for the Internet. At the end of the day we just couldn’t seem to go out on a visual limb. (You know I wrote that deliberately, right?)

It made me wonder if due to the meme nature of most common visual metaphors today, there just aren’t any really good, new visual metaphors for things like the Internet that we haven’t already seen.

Nah, that can’t be it.






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