At the forefront of technology, old and trusted mediums are becoming obsolete and many of our processes are being labeled as archaisms. Print withers away in the shadows of a digitized world. Does one fight to keep it alive? Do we convert to new mediums? Do we reinvent the wheel? The fact is that the choices design makes today will redefine the future of interaction and design.
The designers skill set is expanding with technology, and at an alarming rate. Graphic Design has changed its role throughout history, driven by advancement. In the past 100 years our journey has been one of growing up. We began out as stylists (20′s – 50′s), during this time we served no agencies. We developed the idea that form follows function, making improvements through iteration (50′s-70′s). With that under our belt we became problem solvers, generating alternatives and narrowing options (70′s-90′s). I believe that today we are problem framers, we re-frame a situation and seek opportunities with a focus on social implications. If today a graphic designer combines art and technology to communicate, then our job truly lies between technology and its people, in that transition.
Technology lives in data, it functions, it calculates. Designers seem to work around or for technology instead of working with technology. Is it an apocalyptic view of man vs. machine or fearing the death of print and authorship that created this tango? Designs on one side are stuck in the past, on the other, fighting to one up technology. The biggest problem we face is our dependency and/or dismissal for the skeuomorphic approach.
Skeuomorphs even have a skewed definition, is it an object that retains ornamental elements of the past, derivative iterations of elements that are no longer necessary for function, or derivative objects that retain ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original? We now stand at a time where skeuomorphs are becoming archaisms. My question is, without cues of familiarity to the physical world, will design become detached from reality and people? Will people pay the consequence. Could unnatural exposure and delivery of information be causing a cognitive shift? Are people going backwards as technology goes forward?
To look more at this so called archaism we can compare it to how we measure engine power, in horsepower. At one point this made sense, compare the output to something commonly known, the output of a horse, believe it or not people knew how much a horse could pull. My car has 286HP, that does not mean much to me, I cant even picture what 286 horses looks like, I guess I could Google it. Does this make horse power obsolete? The debate on archaisms is not a debate on design trends or aesthetics, but a debate about human transition and technological convergence.
We build off what exists, it is a universal truth. Is it not best to design for the times in order to drive a smooth frustration free evolution into tomorrow and build while doing it? Is the answer in our balance of physical and virtual, of proven and innovation? The problem lies in how innovation can quickly become irresponsible. A button is a button, it asks to be pressed. We cant fix the horsepower archaism by changing it to light years. My question put bluntly, how do we balance yesterday and tomorrow into today?