At the Story, Metaphor, Vision conference

The brain is giving up its secrets and people from the arts and humanities are listening! I have been attending a few talks at the Story, Metaphor and Vision, organized by the Humanities Department at Stanford University. The conceit of the conference is that its time to make connections between literature, culture, art and what we understand about cognition and the brain. Some of the topics would be of special interest to information architects:
-Metaphor in semantic theory and innovation
-How metaphor works in the brain

There is also a lot of reference to the “digitization of culture”, interest and more than a little angst at the creeping influence of technology in everyday life. The most interesting talk I heard was by Mark Turner about conceptual blending, a topic that could of relevance to designers (in a manner similar to metaphors).

3 responses to “At the Story, Metaphor, Vision conference

  1. Conceptual Blending seems like an interesting concept. The definition,

    “According to the Theory of Conceptual Blending, elements and vital relations from diverse scenarios are “blended” in a subconscious process. This process is known as Conceptual Blending, and is assumed to be ubiquitous to everyday thought and language. Insights obtained from these blends constitute the products of creative thinking.”

    …sounds like Conceptual Blending might be the scientific construct of what we casually call Pattern Matching.

    (ps: Rashmi, the db on Jon’s blog seems to be down. I get an error everytime I try to read a post)

  2. Jon is in the process of changing his webhost – its probabably something to do with DNS changes.

    Pattern matching would be the using some type mental expectency to categorize an object. So, we have a mental pattern regarding, lets say – a computer virus. When we encounter a virus, we check to see if the object matches. This is categorization or pattern matching in common parlance.

    However, the concept “computer virus” is actually positing a similarity between one source domain (virus in biology) to computers or the target domain. This is an example of metaphor.

    But metaphor cannot explain the rich concept of computer virus. In contrast, conceptual blending theory would say that “computer virus” is a blending of “computer science” and “virulogy domains”. The resultant concept – “computer virus” has a life of its own, though it retains its links to the original domains. Also, this new concept “computer virus” ends up influencing the original concept of virus. For example, people might say, “The Ebola virus has not been cracked yet.” Clearly, the verb “cracked” is from the domain of computer virus.

    Not sure if above example gets the differences across, but I suspect the distinction is a relevant one for UX design.

  3. Yes, I see the distinction now. Thanks for explaning so well.