Truth in Design

Matt Gemmel in thoughtful essay:

We forget that physical objects are also just specific embodiments – or presentations – of their content and function. A paperback book and an ebook file are two embodiments of the text they each contain; the ebook isn’t descended from the paperback. They’re siblings, from different media spheres, one of which happens to have been invented more recently.

The biggest intellectual stumbling-block we’re facing is the fallacy that just because physical embodiments came first, they’re also somehow canonical.

That’s what [Jony] Ive is talking about, I think. He’s not saying that skeuomorphic or embellished design is “bad” in any absolute sense, but rather that it’s false. It’s obviously false on the visual level, but the issue runs much deeper: it’s false because it implies that you can generalise experiences from different realms of interaction. It’s making promises that not only inevitably fail to deliver in some way, but also actually compromise the uniqueness, and quality, and essence of what you’re creating.