Does SEND include any skeuomorphs?

Okay, strange word I know – stay with me…..

Why does my phone make the sound of shutter when I take a photo? It doesn’t have a shutter, and even if it did, I wouldn’t be able to control its volume level. Yet, I hear that satisfying old school shutter sound every time I click. Do you think there are kids alive today who have only known digital cameras and don’t even know what that artificial sound is trying to mimic?

When I read a PDF on my tablet, why I am swiping to turn imaginary pages? Why are there even imaginary pages?

I guess its human nature to try to mimic the analogue in the digital world. It’s familiar. It makes the transition easier.

By the way, such idiosyncrasies are called skeuomorphs. Taking a strange functional artifact of one media into another where it no longer has function. In this case, replicating an analogue quirk in digital format.

Does SEND include any skeuomorphs? It’s an interesting question. On face value we’d probably say not, but scratch beneath the surface and I think we get into the debate about whether SEND should be a representation of the collected data or the reported data. Most of the time, in the nonclinical world, these are the same thing, but not always. Food and Water Consumption is the entrance to this particular rabbit hole. We collect Given Amount and Residue Amount, but report a calculated consumption. Ok, that’s not a skeuomorph in itself, but we are just getting warmed up here. What about scenarios where food is collected daily, but reported weekly, or by some other interval, usually to save space on the page? If the SEND dataset reflects the weekly reporting, then are we representing our data a certain way in SEND to save space on a page?

Now, that’s definitely starting to sound like a skeuomorph.

Well, here’s something that cropped up here at Instem, in the last week or two as we were converting a DART study, but don’t worry, you don’t need to be a DART expert to accompany me through this example. Due to the volume of data on Embryo Fetal Development studies, it’s common practice to only report positive findings, and not list pages of ‘Unremarkable’ or ‘Normal’ or what ever term your system uses. So, should SEND include all of these unreported ‘Normals’? If omitted from SEND, and therefore matching the report, we’d be omitting data simply to save space on a page. Clearly a skeuomorph. So, in our software, we have chosen to include these records. We are going with what is collected, not what is reported. Yet, remember that differences between the SEND datasets and the study report need to be clearly explained in the nonclinical Study Data Reviewers Guide (nSDRG).

We also encountered other examples where collected and reported differ,  and sometimes it seemed appropriate to go with what was collected, and at other times we go with what was reported, but I’ll save those examples for another day.

Finally, I’ll leave you with the next question on this particular trail: What about Rationalized data? Whether it’s Pathology data, Clinical Signs, or Fetal Pathology, data are often rationalized at report time for ease of analysis and/or the best use of the available space on the page. Which do we include in SEND?

And now you’ll forever be reminded of SEND whenever you hear the artificial shutter sound on your camera’s phone. That’s one of those Skeuo-what-now thingies.

Till next time…


Published by Marc Ellison

Self-confessed SEND nerd who loves geek-ing out about everything to do with SEND. Active CDISC volunteer and member of the CDISC SEND extended leadership team. Director of SEND solutions at Instem responsible for all our industry leading SEND products and services.