Matt Gemmell on skeuomorphism and intuitive design:
Matt, a programmer by trade, addresses the skeuomorphism debate more effectively than most designers I’ve heard arguing about it.[Here’s my pull quote:]
Children don’t seem to be having problems grasping those concepts, even if Jakob Neilsen thinks they should. They’re not confused by interactive data-surfaces; they’re frustrated when actual, printed content in the physical world doesn’t respond the way they now expect it to.
Intuitiveness has become unhelpfully conflated with familiarity. The reasoning is simple enough: things that are already familiar don’t have to be re-learned, so we assume that they’re more “intuitive”. That’s a big assumption, but we treat it as if it’s fact.
Sometimes, familiar things aren’t as intuitive as they could be, and a new, unfamiliar thing might be more so. Another possibility is that a new thing might be equally intuitive, but also have other benefits which justify its initial unfamiliarity. In either case, intuitiveness cannot be divorced from context.