Skeuomorphia

Adam Greenfield has written a great post about Apple’s insistence on using rustic, skeumorphic symbolism for their apps. The little spiral-bound address book, the yellow legal pad, the radio microphone: are these really symbols of 21st century, cutting-edge tech? This use of nostalgic metaphor has bugged me for a while. Sometimes I don’t mind, because they seemed to put some effort and taste into the symbols they used (e.g. the entirely Rams-ian calculator icon … which has unfortunately now been replaced).

But the quality has recently dropped, most notably with the introduction of iBooks. Those shelves! If you are going to go with a book-on-shelf metaphor (even though iTunes manages perfectly well without trying to look like a box of old vinyl), then at least go for some nice looking shelves (Vitsoe, anyone?). Those wooden ones look like they’ve been fished out of a skip. And then today I noticed something just as bad: I added a PDF to iBooks and it very kindly added a little black plastic comb-bind to it! Why put that extra effort into making something look cheap and nasty?

And surely somebody at Apple HQ has had a look at their iPhone and thought ‘hmm, maybe representing two very different functions with compasses is a bit dumb’ … ?