It seems completely natural for most people to communicate online by making a video call with a camera located close to their terminal, but this is just one of the possible setups and it might not be the best one. In this article, we suggest that the widespread acceptance and use of metaphors from the physical world into software applications has been neglecting the main advantages of digital media. Since the early 1970s and for the next fifty years, the most popular interactive systems have employed metaphors from the physical world as the main user interface for humans. We analyse the case of the desktop graphical user interface, through the lens of the remediation and the metaphors theories. Our findings have significant implications in the case of teleconferencing systems, which have been employed in learning and remote work. Instead of real-time video-conferencing, we suggest that sparse synchronous collaboration through digital artifacts is a more productive direction for teleconferencing. In particular, further research should examine real-time collaboration with metaphors adopted from multiplayer role-playing tabletop games and videogames.


Chorianopoulos, K. 2021. Metaphors to die for: Digital transformation for learning and work. Unpublished draft, 7.   BibTeX