Horizontal designs and scrolling to the right

I’m noticing more and more web sites that rely on a sideways or horizontal-scroll where the content extends off to the side, not down south below the screen, but to the right.

I see this in apps as well as sites.

Example number one: TweetDeck. Need more searches or hashtags to track? Add them and they populate off to the right, not below the scroll.

Second example: Julia Allison – faux internet celebrity has a “lifecast” – Non-Society — that scrolls sideways.

Third example: Google’s News timeline (which I really dig design-wise but haven’t fallen in love with yet as a navigation for my news needs).

Fourth example – The New York Times’ Adobe Air reader – hit the right arrow button and it’s like turning the page.

Example five: Kindle. Hit the bar on the right edge of the device and you flip the page just like one licks one’s thumb and reaches up and to the right to turn the page on that old copy of War and Peace.

Is this trend driven by the gradual death of the 4:3 “square” monitor ratio in favor of the 16:10/16:9 wide “letterbox” mode now standard on most laptops and flat panel desktop monitors? I think so. As we lose real estate on the vertical scroll the horizontal real estate on the screen begins to dominate. Web sites that assumed (in the dark ages of HTML 2.0 and Web 1.0) a 800×600 resolution, tended to constrain their content in a “snake” of text that scrolled downwards, vertically, sinking below the bottom bezel of our monitors and laptop screen. PgDN and the down arrow keys were essential navigation aids for the reader in the first wave of page design. Now? We’re going to the right and I expect to see more of it.

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