From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 1994 13:33:21 EDT

I wrote:
>> ... On a "phenomenal" level, sure, nothing moves,
>> everything is just redrawing pixels (well the electron gun moves)...
>> (Deleted)

and Andreas Ramos (andreas -at- netcom -dot- com) replied:
>The electron gun doesn't move either. The stream of electrons are
>directed by several magnetic fields. The only thing that moves is the

Point taken.

You went on, however, to suggest that the idea of scrolling as a continuous
stream of text was inaccurate, since the Greeks and Egyptians actually
wrote the text in page-units, that were scrolled into position horizontally
before being read top-to-bottom.

I'll agree that Hollywood's depictions are inaccurate. However, Greeks and
Egyptians weren't the only players on the scrolling scene. Ancient
Chinese texts were often on scrolls (made up of bamboo strips held together
with string, like bamboo blinds). These scrolls were continuous, and not
in page-units. Each twist of the wrist produced a new line of text (one
per bamboo strip). Since Chinese characters read from top to bottom, the
scroll was unwound horizontally; but I think our vertical scroll-bars are
a legitimate transformation, for horizontally-read text.

So: maybe we got it right for the wrong reasons, but the scroll metaphor
is not necessarily inaccurate. And, as I suggested in my original response,
breaking the metaphor can confuse the heck out of users. It isn't just
useful for explaining the interface to a user, it is part of the user's
mental model. Being aware of the model on a conscious level allows us
to avoid breaking it.

Thanks for an interesting and informative post,

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: My opinions, not IBM's.
Credit: okay, I didn't know all that about Chinese scrolls on my own. I asked
a friend.

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