Saturday, October 6

don't hang up

{photo by this kind soul on flickr}

I was struck the other day by the anachronism of the phrase "hang up the phone." we still use that phrase, even though most phones in my world these days are the cordless kind, or the kind that slide or flip open and just get thrown on the table or tossed into a bag or stuffed in a pocket when not in use. I haven't literally hung a phone up on a hook for who knows how long. the world has moved on. telephones have evolved. but the words are still tied to the way phones were made twenty years ago or more.
{photo by this kind person on flickr}

and this in turn reminded me of a term I heard recently: skeuomorphism. I'll let you look it up yourself, if you like. a skeuomorph is a bit like the designer's version of these outdated ways we refer to the ending of phone calls.

here are some other interesting and relevant readings:

a blogpost about what counts as skeuomorphism and what doesn't, where Sacha Greif contrasts skeuomorphism with mixed metaphors.

a tumblr full of arbitrary and gratuitous user interface design choices, which may or may not be skeuomorphic.

and a google group discussion thread about linguistic skeoumorphs, where somebody named Glenn Knickerbocker says:
"The word 'skeuomorph' itself might be considered skeuomorphic, with Greek roots used to mark as erudite a word created at a time when academic discourse was no longer primarily undertaken in Classical languages."
there must be other examples of linguistic skeuomorphism. can you think of any? anyone?

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