27 September 2012

...skewing skeuomorphs

Hand drawn icon of Steve Jobs sticking his tongue out
Everyone's got their knickers in a right old twist over skeuomorphic design recently. If the discussion had an iPhone app, the UI would be a pair of screwed up cotton briefs with stitching so perfectly detailed by an angle-poised downward light source that Steve Jobs could - so we're led to believe - have been found hunched over his desk frantically licking it like some thirsty bespectacled Weimaraner. Alternatively, should the same app appear on a Windows phone, then the said twisted knickers would be a monochrome illustration of some pants bound by a solid red box. Whether or not Bill Gates would be seen dead running his tongue across this particular interface is unknown, but it could be safe to say he might. Or even safer to say he might not.

What's interesting, though, is that the Moores Law tail isn't wagging Microsoft's dog as far as their current design ethos stands. Despite the onward trend of ramping up the tiniest detail of every pixel of every onscreen graphic to match ever-higher resolution displays running on seemingly endless processing power, Microsoft has, with Windows 8, eschewed this trending whistles and bells eye candy methodology and stripped everything back likes it's 1999 - a time which can *just* remember saving your 1.44MB of data on to a removable floppy disk. Just because we can make everything look like it's water on glass, doesn't mean we should.

With debates raging on whether in 2012 we should be using anachronistic skueomorphs such as the floppy disk icon to signify saving your work when we have a generation of computer users with no actual reference point to the icon's original source, I decided that the problem could be solved simply with a tangible artefact which makes sense of saving. Sort of. And then made one. It's called the Floppyflash: a removable USB flash drive embedded into a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk with its own lick-able desktop icon.

Now when you've finished Photoshopping cats heads onto people with rainbow lasers shooting from their recalcitrant eyes and click save, you technically are saving to the floppy disk from which your icon came.

Then everyone will be happy and we'll hear no more about it, yes?

Props to the legendary Susan Kare who created the original 32x32 pixel Steve Jobs icon from which I took inspiration for my sketchy sketch.

Steve Jobs' alleged quote "I want to be able to lick it; I want it to be like glass on water" can be read in full in this revealing Co.DESIGN article.