I was so excited to see this article on Fast Co. Design: "Apple. The name has become synonymous with good design. But it’s also had a few missteps in recent years. Skeuomorphism is taking the place of clean interfaces."
Here's another talking about the whole thing:
As both Thompson’s and Biddle’s articles describe, the philosophy that drives the majority of contemporary UIs is called skeuomorphism. Derived from the Greek words Skeuos, meaning vessel or tool, and morph, meaning shape, a skeuomorph is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a “derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original.” The term can apply to either a physical or digital creation. In other words, it means to replicate the form and material qualities of something that are no longer inherently necessary, all with the objective of making new designs “look comfortably old and familiar,” Nicholas Gessler writes in “Skeuomorphs and Cultural Algorithms.” When applied to UI, the logic here is that it will make the interface more intuitive and usable, as the user will understand how it functions based on their knowledge of the analog object it is replicating.
But what I am really fascinated with is how we choose or become with Skeuomorphs. The investigation continues.
Last night, I was wondering why my iPhone dings like a vintage bell when I get a text message. Why does new technology use sounds that are antiquated? With the development of new technology you would think new sounds would replace old sounds. When they invented the telephone, it rang the way it did because it's mechanisms required it to do so. But now.... Why does my mobile phone still use that ring? What is this phenomenon? What made that ring special amongst all the other telephone rings in history?
I have found the answer!
A skeuomorph /ˈskjuːəmɔrf/ skew-ə-morf, or skeuomorphism (Greek: skeuos—vessel or tool, morphe—shape), is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with a circular town name and cancellation lines.
An alternative definition is "an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material". This definition is narrower in scope and ties skeuomorphs to changes in materials.
Must find out more.