What is an app?

The American Dialect Society, which earlier this week named the term ‘app’ word of the year, has the following definition:

> The shortened slang term for a computer or smart phone application.

But Ian Bogost thinks it’s worth [thinking a bit more about](http://www.bogost.com/blog/what_is_an_app.shtml), and it is more than simply smaller functional units, a la the unix philosophy, with each one performing a specific task and that complex tasks require piping data through an array of applications:

> The app is a mixed blessing for computer aesthetics, just like music sampling is for music. On the one hand, we get many variations of the same thing that can surprise us when refashioned in different permutations. But on the other hand, we get fewer coherent, complete takes on things. And there’s a risk that deep meaning slowly seeps out of every unit as each does less and less. Apps and web services like Foursquare and Facebook give us a preview of this potential future agony, one in which the most basic chunk of meaning is the conveyance of a piece of data from a database to a screen and back again.