Microsoft’s menu bars are awash in anachronistic images, and it’s especially evident in the latest edition of the Office 2003 application suite. This struck me as I was authoring my 364th “Inside PCMag.com” newsletter. Clicking on the Save icon, I found myself wondering why it’s still an image of a 3.5-inch floppy disk. When was the last time you saved a file on a floppy? —Lance Ulanoff —Icon See It Now (PC Mag)
Hmm… this may be true in the business world, but the ledge of the whiteboard in the front of every computer room starts collecting abandoned floppy disks around midterm time, and there are often ten or twelve there by the end of term. I suppose this could be taken as evidence that students are abandoning such floppies, but my point is that they are still in use. Only once or twice have I seen an abandoned Zip disk. Nevertheless, I have a little keychain USB drive that I use to bring files back and forth from the office.
In critiquing the “cut” and “paste” icons, Ulanoff says “What a clipboard and a document have to do with pasting is beyond me.” It sounds almost like Ulanoff doesn’t know that “cut” and “paste” are references to actually taking a pair of scissors (or a razorblade knife) and clipping a chunk of text off of one page and actually sticking it on top of another page. When I was working for the (sadly defunct) University Journal as an undergrad, we would re-use graphics and logos, and while I don’t recall whether we actually kept them on a clipboard, I think we kept them in the front cover of a notebook. So the clipboard icon makes sense to me. Ulanoff’s point is, of course, that these images come from the print world — a world that is more and more remote, and more and more metaphorical, to users of electronic text.