Dialogue: Succinct or Vague?

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Symbolism is increasingly important in the Information Age. It’s a universal form of communication and in a world deluged with information, symbols allow people process ideas that much faster.

The only thing that has yet to happen is for the symbols of the digital world to make their way to the analog world… but that may have just started. A designer known as Jeff Bare has produced paperclips shaped in the form of symbols associated with web browsers. His Stop, Reload, and Star paperclips are available on Shapeways, a site dedicated to rapid-prototyping 3D models that people create and upload.

I fell in love with Jeff’s paperclips the moment I saw them because he’s breathed new life into a boring commodity item that has little potential beyond its original function. I know some professors who could have certainly used these to help students interpret the longhand scrawls on their term papers.


On the other hand is it possible that these icons are overly simplistic? Could this exacerbate the current generation’s supposed difficulty in oral communication? Some bosses may be tempted to communicate with employees using just paperclip. Telling someone their proposal is denied doesn’t really help them figure out how to improve it.

So should the symbols be more elaborate? Should they be blank? Or would it be better to stick with writing information on sticky notes? It’s very curious to imagine how these designs could develop if they were to gain a larger following.

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