The WWW today is dominated by participatory and so-called social platforms. Such user-generated networks pervade our ordinary life. Much like pre-modern forms of a new technology, many of these platforms have been modelled off existing cultural forms. Cultural artefacts such as the scrapbook (Pinterest), funniest home videos (tiktok), newspaper classifieds (gumtree), and talk back radio (Clubhouse) could be considered as skeuomorphs of the social web. But often the intended use of a certain platform evolves to resemble little of its initial pitch. In the case of Pinterest for example, the idea of digitising a wedding scrapbook for brides to be, evolves to resemble little of its early form. Often these platforms take on a life of their own.
We are interested in what these platforms have evolved to become – how much of their original metaphor have they retained, and what this might mean for the material world.
Now that there are generations who have never known a world without computing, is the metaphor of the skeuomorph still relevant? Or does the material world start to reveal itself as a skeuomorph of the digital, ie. that the digital is used as an analogy to understand the material world, instead of the one reversed process.
If we reverse engineer these once skeuomorphic forms back into the material world will an entirely new language of cultural forms be revealed?