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Skeuomorphic Design and Predictions

A floppy disc to save your drafts. A shelf to access your ebooks. A recycling bin to store your deleted files. These are examples of skeuomorphic design - digital interfaces that mirror their analog counterparts. A helpful way to introduce the new through the familiar. 

Skeuomorphic design leverages the past to guide us into the future, but it's doesn't create that future. 

If we think skeuomorphicly, we dream narrowly and fall into the classic "faster horse" trap - where the future is only an improved version of now. We predict better horseshoes and saddles, instead of self-driving cars. 

Smartphones are not phones with internet, but entertainment consoles and payment systems. Youtube is not home videos online, but a medium for a whole new class of creators. 

Amazon started as a bookseller and evolved into the world's biggest cloud provider - an innovation in its own right that spring-boarded countless others.

Innovation by its nature is surprising. It's not a version of now, but something else completely. 


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In school, we listen to our teachers. At home, our parents. Throughout our childhood, following instructions is praised and rewarded. When we're young, there's value in this. We don't understand how the world works quite yet, so guidance can be lifesaving.  The bias to just accept obviously has drawbacks. Insert old jumping off a bridge adage .  This conditioning is especially strong for kids from lower income households. Their parents are more likely in working class jobs involving strict order-taking. Parents of middle-class households tend to be knowledge workers where influence is essential.  Studies have shown kids from middle-income households are more willing to negotiable with their teachers. They learn from their parents that things are not set in stone. This leads to better grades and learning outcomes when compared to their lower income counterparts who don't negotiable.  In business, if we simply accept things as they are, we would never innovate. In work, w