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ISOMETRIC ICONS
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Have a look at the top of your browser and you will see a row
(or more) of ICONS. With the proliferation of graphical user
interfaces (GUIs), the need for clearly designed icons has
become critical. Unfortunately, not all icons are clear and easy
to understand.
Do you understand the icons below?
An icon is a simplified, designed artefact that is intended to
represent something
. Good icons are more akin to road signs
rather than illustrations, and ideally should present an idea in
a clear, concise, and memorable way.

Initially, icons were used to identify the type of each object on
the desktop — e. g. whether it is a folder, file or trash can.
However, the use of icons for graphic communication did not
begin with the Apple Macintosh  
more information.

The modern use of icons can be traced back to the
Vienna
Circle group of philosophers in the early twentieth century. This
group was strongly influenced by
Wittgenstein’s idea that
the meaning of a natural language expression can be thought
of as a kind of picture. This idea was given a practical
interpretation by
Otto Neurath, a central member of the group.
Neurath developed "
Isotype" see left as the basis of a
universal graphical language.
The style of much contemporary
graphics can be seen to have evolved from this work
.

Neurath showed that icons can be very useful for referring to
general types of things (e. g. sociological data) and for
describing operating instructions (e. g. using a pay-telephone),
but there are difficulties in using icons to refer to specific
things. On our computer desktops we use icons all the time,
but we still use the keyboard to identify particular folders and
files by giving them names.


CONTINUE TO ACTIVITY
Neurath originally intended
Isotype to be used by educators
of young children, but it wound
up instead heavily influencing
modern public signage and
information graphics. Visually, it
owes a lot to a clean-lines,
1920s realist/deco aesthetic.
more information
another example
While many icons are 2D, it
is not difficult to find
3D
icons such as the isometric
icons on the right

more examples