Smart quotes are a skeuomorphism

And they're one that I'm not particularly fond of.

If they weren't separate characters, if they just DISPLAYED as smart quotes but were treated under the hood as straight quotes, that would be fine! But I'm tired of copying and pasting some text and finding that it has these useless characters in it. If I copy a quotation, I have to edit all the quotation marks or apostrophes so they're not visually mismatched with the straight quotes I'm using in the rest of the document. And never mind all the examples of code you can find online where the quote marks are thoughtlessly converted into "smart quotes" by whatever word processor or web publisher the author used.

A "skeuomorph" is when the design of something deliberately mimics an older element that's no longer needed or in use. So like the faux wood paneling on newer cars, or save buttons in modern programs being shaped like floppy disks, or the whole concept of electric candles, or Winamp skins that look like jukeboxes. And skeuomorphisms can be cool! My desktop background doesn't HAVE to be a faux wood grain like a real desk would have, but maybe I think that looks nice.

But smart quotes go a step further by forcing their presence on people who DON'T want or need to imitate the slanted appearance of handwritten quotation marks.

And the only argument I've ever seen in favor of them is "they look better", which is totally subjective.

Tagged:

Technology

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