Friday, 14 June 2013

Writing - Skeuomorphism?

What is skeuomorphism?


skeuomorph is a physical ornament or design on an object made to resemble another material or technique. Examples include pottery embellished with imitation rivets reminiscent of similar pots made of metal, or a software calendar that imitates the appearance of a paper desk calendar.

Other examples are the recycle bin on your desktop, the envelope symbol for email and the scissors for cut and paste function. Skeuomorphs are not strictly something that can be designed they occur unintentionally when aesthetic styles are inherited without thinking.

The reason I include this strange word and its meaning is that there seems to be something of a row going on between the supertechies in their ivory towers about whether skeuomorphisms should continue or whether 'proper' icons should be designed for desktop symbols and those being used on smartphones and tablets. 
The purpose of using skeuomorphs was to keep things simple for new users and it concerns me that someone thinks that it is no longer necessary. Are there no new users any more?


This word coincided with an interview on an unrelated matter and that was the desire of utility companies to have users move to online statements as opposed to paper statements. Some plausible young man sat in the BBC Breakfast studio and claimed that customers were asking for their statements to be available online. I'm sure some customers are, as I'm equally sure that those customers are possibly not from the 'baby boomer' generation and definitely not older. The point about using hard copy statements as ID was brought up and he naively suggested that people would have to use passports and driving licences. I didn't exactly scream at the screen 'What about those who don't drive and have no wish to travel abroad?' My mum was one of those. 
It comes back to the lack of consideration by young of those who were not brought up with the computer. To place some chronology on this argument please consider my experience of personal computers:-

1980 - saw my first desk top computer at a library in Ilkley College, Yorkshire. It was a Commodore Pet!
1982 - 1 desk top computer was given to every secondary school in the UK.
1984 - I acquired my first home computer.
1988 - My daughter was born. She is the youngest of my three children and although all three are computer literate she was the one who was totally attuned to the machines from the earliest age.

My point is that I was the science teacher and it was either that member of staff or the Maths teacher in schools that unpacked and learned how to use the blessed things, and I was dead keen on understanding their use. If we round the date to 1990 then we can say that home computers have only been in common usage for about 23 years. The sector of the population most familiar with them will be those aged between 3 and 49 approximately but only if they were interested. I would suggest that there is a sector of society aged 50 or older who may have never used or wanted to use a computer. Anyone who'd left school by 1990 would have had no experience of using the machines. They were a luxury in the beginning not a necessity. 

I just wish that these bright young things who make pronouncements would remember that they are not talking to the whole of society. Governments should also legislate for those not computer literate and who have no desire to be so.

'A book is a friend that does what no friend can do - stay quiet when you want to think!'

The above reminded me of my book 'Cessation' and the reason for the 'stop' which sparked the original idea in my mind. Take away the electricity!

SF poetry

SF Sonnet

What will happen when the lights do go out?
The fragile establishment will crumble.
Warning signs were there for us all to flout
those left behind have no cause to grumble.
Life for the remainder will be rougher.
The electronic revolution died.
Self-reliance for food makes things tougher.
To change your behaviour - you must decide.
Small is more beautiful in collectives,
life skills rather than pounds are currency.
Days free from useless top down directives,
purer forms of relative decency.

When the rug is swept from beneath your feet
catch the music with a different beat.
©David L Atkinson February 2013

God Bless