Alan & MDixon,
Regarding context: ALA is for web folks. Of course, the materials and context for other mediums like iOS, Kindle, the pending Intel TV, automotive dashboards, etc ... are all unique.
Regarding other fields: I agree that many, like molecular gastronomy, landscape architecture, perhaps painting, have similar histories with material honesty.
Agargara & Kenosha,
More than the semantics or metaphysical topics, I want folks (who don’t already know) to know that this material honesty debate isn’t new. It has been played out for centuries. Here’s some more historic quotes:
Le Corbusier, one of the most influential and prolific architects of the twentieth century punches:
“Trash is always abundantly decorated; the luxury object is well made, neat and clean, pure and healthy, and its bareness reveals the quality of its manufacture’ ; ‘This taste for decorating everything around one is a false taste, an abominable little perversion”
Le Corbusier, The Decorative Art of Today, 1925
To which Paul Follot, an influential and respected decorative French artist of interiors, furniture, tableware, and architecture counters:
“We know that the ‘necessary’ alone is not sufficient for man and that the superfluous is indispensable for him or otherwise let us also suppress music, flowers, perfumes, and the smiles of ladies!”
Paul Follot, from a speech in 1928
The modern UX/UI designer doesn’t need to be elitist. Neither extreme is always right. Some of the answer is in knowing that the continuum exists, not that we shouldn’t use drop shadows or not that our work must land at a certain place on the continuum for theoretical reasons. We have real deadlines and real customers / users to serve.