RIA Designers are smart.
It's not that I care whether they think we have pony tails, it's more to the point that it smacks of contempt at times for what it is these folks do. In that, I don't think it's deliberate and I'm sure in most cases it's said with a positive tone, but underneath it all there is a slight amount of "contempt".
I personally think interface designers are a smart breed and especially those whom are skilled in RIA. As when you look at most RIA solutions or any interface in today's software, one thing that gets overlooked is depth.
In that when you're designing a button for example, there are highlights and shadows associated to the design. That's the basics pretty much there, but when you then look at other elements and composition of some interface designs, have you not noticed the visual representation of depth found within these designs?
It doesn't really stop there, then there is also the colour selection, in that what colours are correctly placed within to underpin the usability of how an end user is able to navigate through various checkpoints in a User Interface.
This is all done at the design stage in most counts, as once an initial theme has been settled upon, the designer not only keeps that momentum going forward but at the same time is conscious of various variables that need to be factored into the overall equation.
Designing an Interfaces for RIA isn't always about shape adjustments, colour composition and pony tails. At times a lot of thought goes into both the x,y & z axis of how one is able to look at a 2D visual design and almost walk away believing they are viewing 3D but from a "front view".
So if you're a non-designer today, and you speak about them tomorrow, spare a thought for the thought process these folks go through in order to help make software what it is today.