New Word: Skeuomorphism

I love it when I learn a new word, and today it’s skeuomorphism – the act of creating a new object that looks like, but is neither made like nor functions like, the object which it appears to be. Think of hubcaps made to look like wire wheels, the leather texture around Apple’s iCal application or any image processed through Instagram.

So, where it came from … Steve Yelvington wrote about how early online news sites tried to mimic the print product and how that was a pretty bad idea. Which isn’t really a surprising or heavy-hitting post, but there’s this one graf that leaped out at me:

Some people like print. Its limitations can feel like features. It’s fixed in time. It’s linear. You can flip through it and feel like you’ve had an overview. It has a beginning and an end. It’s not like the Web, where you just keep going until you’re exhausted.

I still read print magazines (though I stopped getting my local paper delivered when they started forgetting to deliver it on a more regular basis), but all of my daily news consumption comes from web sites or apps on my smartphone and tablet. But once I start reading digitally, I have a much harder time stopping – there’s always one more thing to click. The printed magazine is a more relaxed experience.

Mark E. Johnson

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