CRL Newsletter

April 1999
Vol. 11, No. 6

Table Of Contents

Blending and Your Bank Account: Conceptual Blending in ATM Design

Barbara E. Holder

Department of Cognitive Science

University of California, San Diego


In this paper I explore Fauconnier's (1997) conceptual blending as an evaluative technique for user interface design. Conceptual blending theory offers a rich model that may account for meaning construction and meaning elaboration in design. Blending has been used previously to analyze jokes (Coulson, 1995), metaphor (Fauconnier & Turner, 1998), and Hebrew verb morphology (Mandelblit, 1997). I apply blending theory to unpack the conceptual structure of an everyday artifact, (the automated teller machine), and discuss how that structure is reflected in the design and use of the ATM. The ATM is described as a blend of computing and banking domains with its own properties and conceptual extensions. In the analysis I investigate how task-level representations and operations change within the ATM blend and how these changes introduce temporal complexities into the blend. The debit card and check card are examined as conceptual extensions and an evolution of the ATM blend. I also address some conceptual changes the blend introduces to traditional banking schemas and the changes in social practices of banking. Finally I propose blending as a productive usability evaluation technique.

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