The Pad Metaphor

Imagine that the computer screen is a section of wall about the size of a typical bulletin board or whiteboard. Any area of this surface can then be accessed comfortably without leaving one's chair.

Imagine further that by applying extraordinarily good eyesight and eye-hand coordination, a user can both read and write as comfortably on any micron wide section of this surface as on any larger section. This would allow the full use of a surface which is several million pixels long and high, on which one can comfortably create, move, read and compare information at many different scales.

The above scenario would, if feasible, put vast quantities of information directly at the user's fingertips. For example, several million pages of text could be fit on the surface by reducing it sufficiently in scale, making any number of on-line information services, encyclopedias, etc., directly available. In practice one would arrange such a work surface hierarchically, to make things easier to find. In a collaborative environment, one could then see the layout (in miniature) of many other collaborators' surfaces at a glance.


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