Has Web 2.0 made affordances like so yesterday?--
Granted, the fact that I am 57 years old might be a contributing factor here, but I am seeing what I consider to be a disturbing trend in web design.
Editable fields look like read-only until the user mouses over them. In technical terms, the trend is to reduce the number of affordances (using visual clues to communicate that objects can be acted on) and to rely instead on applying pliancy effects (changing the appearance of objects when focus is applied) to show when actions can be taken on them.
For example, if I open a meeting notice on my Google calendar, I see what appears to be a group of read-only fields, such as "What," "When," "Where," and so forth. But if I move my mouse over any of those fields, they change appearance and background color to indicate that I can edit them.
Here is my concern: If I did not know that the "What" field (for example) could be edited, why would I move my mouse there? It seems that taking away the affordance of showing the field as editable has reduced the ability of the box to show the user how it can be used.
Is this a user assistance issue at all? I say yes because the application has lost some of its effectiveness to instruct the user what information can be edited. Is the solution to cover that in Help? (must....control....hand....of....death)
If you see this happening on your applications, fight it and point out the loss of instructional content within the UI.