Thank you Clive Thompson. At last I have a word for something that has long bugged me: elements of digital design that are based on old-fashioned, analogue, physical objects. Skeuomorphs. My new favourite word. In the latest issue of Wired, Clive talks about classic examples of Skeuomorphs such as digital calendars which (in month view) force you to look at greyed out past weeks when this is completely unecessary.
Clive also mentions one of my own bete noires: digital 'page-turning' technology which mimics analogue paper page-turning and as a format is stubbornly refusing to go away despite being a universally nonsense way to navigate digital content. Compare the typical corner page-peel with something like Flipboard which pivots in the middle of the page in a far more pleasing way.
It might seem harmless but, as Thompson says, despite in some circumstances helping to orient us to new technologies Skeuomorphs are "hobbling innovation by lashing designers to metaphors of the past". Enough already. We should be bolder in our thinking.
Image courtesy The Nerd Code