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Internet and the stimulus-signs: a cat playing with a mouse.

The URLs are a clear example of what we have just said: thanks to the simplicity and the immediacy of some of them we can easily remember the address of a web site and when the choice is really right we can even deduce its subject. Therefore word-signs have a specific cognitive role: they are instruments to control attention. They are stimulus-signs that produce answer-signs.

Movement plays a similar role. When we animate a scene's area it becomes the salient part of the scene. This happens because movement is perceptively very attractive because it establishes a new order in our visual field.

It is like playing with a cat and teasing it with a piece of yarn. The animal's attention will concentrate on the movement of the yarn to the point that the cat won't spring into action to catch it, i.e. the prey. The same thing happens when we see a moving banner on a web site: it catches our attention so much that it seduces us and we finally click on it.

Words and movement seem to be the most common and immediate mechanism to stimulate the interaction between internet and the web surfer.The proverbial game of the cat and mouse suggests once more our inner animal nature and how real and concrete the virtual world is.

Silvia Pittarello

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