There’s No Such Thing As ‘Authentically Digital Design’

The Verge takes a look into the thinking behind the ‘material’ design philosophy for Android:

What is software made of?

The answer came from a design exploration, when Jon Wiley, principal designer for search, and his colleague Nicholas Jitkoff were looking at the now-ubiquitous cards that Google started using in Google Now. They looked at those sliding cards and wondered: when you swiped one away, what was underneath?

“It sounds like such an innocent question,” Duarte says, “and yet it was such a powerful spark.” It led the team to come up with a new way of thinking about the software elements we use and (virtually) touch every day. Instead of just talking about pixels on a screen or abstract layers, the team imagined that these cards and the surfaces they slid around on were actually real, tangible objects.
Software imitating tangible objects. This doesn’t sound like “authentically” digital design does it?
Or does it?
I thought Microsoft was leading the way into the future of software design with Windows Phone and their flat approach. Right? Right?
The answer is: it doesn’t fucking matter. Oh and if anyone tries to use the term “authentically digital design”, punch them in the face and explain to them that term does not exist. Also, to be clear—flat design is not a philosophy, it’s an aesthetic. Like the decision to wear Italian leather dress shoes every day or Chucks (disclosure: I wear Chucks every day).
The answer to Google’s sharp work for their Material Design is that it is both authentically digital AND skeuomorphic. Heresy! Oh no he dih-ent!
Operating systems, mobile applications, ATM screens and every other piece of software with a user interface was made so that human beings could interact with them. Computers, on the other hand, operate using zeros and ones. Everything else we humans build on top of those zeros and ones is made for us to communicate with them.
Software and user interfaces can be neither authentically or inauthentically digital. Software either well-designed or poorly designed.

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