Paul.Zablosky at ubc.ca
Wed Aug 27 00:09:24 UTC 2008
After Eli's challenge this morning for someone to come up with an undo
icon, I did a bit of hunting around to see if I could find something
better than a semi-circular arrow. A search for "undo icon" turned up
hundreds of examples, but they were pretty well all just different
renditions of the arrow, always pointing in a counter-clockwise direction.
The OED was not much help, although it does tell us that the word
"undo", with the meaning of /"To reverse the doing or making of (some
material thing or effect) so as to restore the original form or
condition" /goes back to 1426 -- so it's not a recent concept.
I tried to think of metaphors for "undoing" something. A common
metaphor for progress is time moving forward, so a clock running
backwards is a sensible image to convey retrograde motion, but I don't
think it would work as a symbol. It turns out that the notion of
counter-clockwise motion is historically linked to regress (see the word
"widdershins"), so this explains somewhat the origin of a
counter-clockwise pointing arrow for undo, and a clockwise arrow for redo.
I agree with Daphne that it's worth looking for something better, but
all the images I can think of are too complex:
* unlaying of bricks
* unspilling of paint -- back into the bucket
* a vehicle backing out of a wrong turn
* untying of a knot
Anyone else have ideas about this?
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