Skeuomorphism–a great Scrabble word and the subject of a fascinating story on NPR last week. Apple design becoming outdated? Some would say that’s blasphemy! I take a more practical approach.
I think this raises some interesting ideas about visual language as it relates to process in the new digital millenium, and I think some kind of middle ground may be where I land — yes, the “anthropomorphic” representationalism of, say, a — entirely virtual — trash can seems a little outdated or old hat, but are we ready to let go of that convention in favor of a “image free” conception of our gizmoid functions and performances? How is the MEANING of it changed? Is there a new understanding of what is transpiring if there is no “depiction” of it? Probably. I think the interaction becomes that much more abstract and concrete at the same time, oddly. But colder and maybe even more solipsistic — so, it makes sense I think that microsoft would be at the cutting edge (and I really kinda only mean that sorta snarkily — I mean, y’know, it kinda makes sense considering what they’ve been about culturally and historically). I agree that there’s some silliness associated w/ the woodgrain and the stitching, but I wonder if doing away w/a representational approach to user-interfacing isn’t a step too far in the other direction.
Today is sam’s birthday. To my great surprise and delight, he said recently that he wouldn’t mind having a wristwatch (one of his “cool” friends must wear one), so I was very happy to have his present easily determined and then purchased. I very deliberately got him an analog watch rather than a digital one — and I was actually thinking about this in the car on the way in this morning — cuz a digital read-out will tell you what time it is RIGHT NOW — THIS VERY SECOND — with no indication of how that relates to the “sweep of time” on a grander scale. A minute hand and a second hand and an hour hand, on the other “hand,” convey what comes before and hence — you can see it there — the second hand moving through space IN TIME. It’s a more humane experience of time. Still a man-made contrivance, but somehow more organic. And I wonder how these little aspects of our daily life add up and influence our experience of the world and how we react to it. I saw a GPS on the dashboard of the car in front of me, and thought how, similarly, the GPS will tell you EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW. A traditional, paper map shows you the space and then it’s up to you to put yourself in it — a fundamentally very different approach. The further we get into abstraction, is more humanity lost byte by byte? And what is happening to the hard-wiring of our children’s brains — the ones who never heard of a floppy disk? How is their experience of the world different from ours?