On Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 8:43 AM, Alan Blackwell
> > Of course, 'real'
> > linguists have their terms and analyses for these things, which are
> > probably more useful.
> Jon Oberlander once wrote a nice paper 'Grice for Graphics'
> (1996), in which he elaborated the ways that secondary notation
> is used in technical diagrams as a kind of linguistic pragmatics.
> The example of how Max/MSP programmers lay out the flow of their
> system from left to right, despite the fact that the official syntax
> doesn't require this, is exactly like the cases that Jon analysed.
> --Alan Blackwell
Also, a more obscure example that I love is the Barker technique in UML
Class diagrams. I've only seen it explained once before, in David Hay's
book Data Model Patterns, but it is extremely convincing in explaining how a
human or computer *should* draw a class diagram, and what styles of diagram
layout boost problem domain cognition. It is only anecdotal, and not a
formal study, but the example is truly amazing. At the same time, the
passer-by might say, "Well, sure, if you untangle any piece of spaghetti
you'll get an improvement." But what is neat is that there is a consistent
set of rules Richard Barker (at Oracle) created for drawing these diagrams
to help people better understand database schemas.
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