When a video I was watching on YouTube stopped playing, I was greeted with this;
Yes, that’s an actual animation of screen static, ala televisions from the middle to latter part of the previous century. I appreciate the message YouTube are trying to convey…actually I don’t, given I can read the error text. Instead, the static conveys to me that I should do what I used to do to my television in these situations, and hit it. Repeatedly.
This leads to a bigger conversation about Skeuomorphism. There are certainly people using YouTube who have never seen a television with static. There are people who have never sent a letter using Airmail, or saved a file to a floppy disk, or copied music from a CD.
The symbol of a landline handset for your computer-as-a-telephone still works, for now. The floppy disk is a now tenuous metaphor for the storage of data in a transportable format, a decade (more?) since they’ve been widely used. Yet as we march on with technology, we are becoming exposed to technological concepts that have no historical basis in physical objects.
The symbol of a cloud for information stored redundantly on multiple server locations across the world, accessible from anyone with an internet connection, is an example of a concept that is so full of complexity and meaning that it could only exist as something as devoid of physicality as an amorphous mass of water vapour. How far can we stretch the concepts we already know before we have to just deal with the fact that things have changed dramatically, again?
It won’t be so bad. We got used to the symbol of a computer, and a laptop, and wireless and battery life. We’ll get used to seeing symbols of fridges with computer screens, and people with iPhones where their hearts should be.