I’ve been thinking a lot about applications that make full utilization of their potential. This has been relatively understood topic in the traditional web.

Initially when we moved to the web people didn’t really know how to build for it, so they took analogies from what they already knew — documents. A lot of the early web was basically just porting paper documents to a digital screen. This led to the rise of word processing tools like Microsoft Word.

Maggie Appleton discusses this in her Metaphiors We Web By essay. Early on in my usage of computers this was pretty the same. Early computer applications classes mainly just taught how to use little quirks of word or excel and didn’t venture much more. This was all fine, but it doesn’t really make full use of the potential of the medium. We were still thinking skeumorphically.

How often you do you come across a website that is interactive and fill with animations, it’s not just a vertical scroll, but has an infinite canvas. Whenever I encounter these I’m always blown away. Text is an ok medium to explain things, but when you’re not limited to text why then only use it?

One of my favorite examples of this are explorables. Small interactive experiences on the web that try to show not tell how different concepts work. I’m not try to equate the difficulty in creating both. An explorable is much more involved with art, interactive, a cohesive narrative, but I’m saying I have not seen a lot of critical mass in the discussion of them. I’ll send explorables or other interactive works to friends and teachers and they’ll love them, but never mess with them again.

I think the only place in my education where anything similar was used was in my physics classes when we would use these pHet Simulations

However, there are countless examples of these online.

It goes on. They’re not all super easy to find as I kind of alluded to in the dark forest.

The Exceptions

The skeumorphic nature of the web started with how we present information but also in the tools we use.