Icon taxonomy in interface design
I found this article: A survey of icon taxonomy used in the interface design by Wang Hsiu-Feng, Hung Sheng-Hsiung and Liao Ching-Chih. Which is a good overview and comparison of the different systems that have been suggested for icon taxonomy.
Different researchers have used similar and overlapping definitions or based their systems on previously existing ones. For instance Rogers’ four icon types: resemblance, exemplar, symbolic and arbitrary versus Lidwell et al’s similar, example, symbolic and arbitrary. In a sense it can seem like meaningless potato potaato debate, but the attempt to create a taxonomy can also reveal the cognitive aspects of interface icon design. That is – what kind of processes do we use as we try to interpret icons and metaphors and whether the icons of a given type are more easy to adopt than others.