In his book Smart Things, Mike Kuniavsky suggests metaphor as a tool for thinking through ubicomp designs and interactions. By mapping one category onto another we can discover new insights -- among other things, it's a way to trick the mind into seeing old things in new ways.
Organizational metaphors (ways of organizing services) include the factory, the public utility, parallel universes and so on.
Metaphors also help people understand new services by linking the new to the familiar. For example, RFID was first introduced as the next generation of the bar code, even though the two technologies had little in common.
Kuniavsky suggests that when exploring a new concept via metaphor, it pays to explore the dark side as well as optimistic scenarios to get a more well-rounded picture of the future system. How might your design be thwarted? How might the system be hijacked or co-opted for other uses?
Please share your thoughts!
Keep in touch! Sign up to get updates and occasional emails from me.