Smartphones are Skeumorphs


A few loosely connected thoughts:

Skeumorph = "a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues from structures that were necessary in the original"

Classic example: digital cameras that retained the square form of film cameras, even though the film inside no longer existed.

What if our mobile devices are themselves skeumorphs: forms that say "phone" and "screen" in comfortable terms but in fact enmesh us in very different systems/interactions, having little to do with our old understand of phone or computer?

Locational-tracking device; interface device for ambient systems; data-harvesting collection point... aren't "phone" functions. Yet many of us talk about them as if they were just landline phones without the wires, or PCs that can fit in our pockets.

Smartphones now may be, in some ways, skeumorphic combinations of older ideas of pre-data mobile phones and pre-tablet laptops. What if the skeumorphic design of smartphones prevents us from seeing them clearly? Prevents us from understanding their roles?

What would a mobile object design look like that clearly demonstrated its role as data-generator + ambient-system access point?

Update: this is an interesting response