Digitization and The Loss of Iconography
Sue Walsh

A camera looks like a camera. Handheld cameras are still being produced and used today. I’m 19 years old and when I think of “camera” I automatically imagine a handheld camera with an optical lens and buttons — a device meant to be used specifically to take pictures.

Children under the age of 18 make up 24.0% of America (2010). I understand the idea that smartphones are increasingly becoming recognized as cameras and other devices by children, but most of the United States is not in its infancy and grew up around handheld cameras and camcorders being used for taking pictures and recording videos. I fail to see how this translates to “most” people imagining a camera as a rectangle with rounded corners. Maybe in 50–100 years from now the idea of a camera will be universally different than it is now, but this is currently not the case. The focus here should be how people associate a multitude of objects with one thing that represents all of those objects — an icon.

Icons are simplifications of complex ideas, much like smartphones are simplifications of common devices: cameras, maps, telephones, books, games, and music players. The smartphone itself is an icon for all of these things. Simplification and minimalism is becoming a universal trend. The smartphone is the Swiss army knife of the 21st century.

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