[Klug-general] The desktop, the future...

Karl Lattimer karl at qdh.org.uk
Sun Nov 16 16:35:42 UTC 2008

So I've touched on this subject in the recent rant of emails. I'm hoping
to gather some replies from people other than Julia. I ask Julia to
kindly let other people speak, and by that I mean, please do not reply
to this email.

Firstly, I'm going to make a statement of intent. 

What we intend to do in the coming months and possibly years is to learn
from the mistakes made in the last 60 years of computing. Mistakes which
have over time become norms. 

To begin with we're intending to do some human computer interaction
(HCI) research, this will require some, what may seem irrelevant
testing. For instance a bunch of white squares on a black background
that have certain behaviours. 

I hope to invite many of you to help with the initial round of testing,
which will be done via a web browser. We're specifically looking for
computer users who aren't familiar with Linux desktops, so the newer
users amongst you are very helpful to us. 

After we've got data about HCI we'll be moving onto user experience
(UX), this is like the Apple Lisa tests that I mentioned in my reply to

We aren't looking to impose our views on people, but some of the
infrastructure behind what we're doing is built on decades of research
by other people. The organise framework is a jewel in our crown along
with wizbit which btw, is not far from actually being complete. We have
a working implementation but we're still niggling on some design issues,
we hope that soon we'll have some cool things to release and a version
controlled file system while we're waiting for other pieces to come

We're doing this research and development for you, and everyone like you
that wants to use the free desktop. We understand some of the major
problems like the boxing problem and we're looking to extend our
understanding further, to other problems. 

In the future we hope to develop what we've learned into a revolutionary
new computer experience. The desktop metaphor is actually invalid, we've
seen this and understood it for some time, we understand why it's
invalid but we also understand that it's been there since the early days
of GUI's. e.g. I don't put my waste bin on my desk-top, I put it under
my desk... :) However, we don't want to end up with a metaphor like
microsoft bob either, its senseless, the desktop is closer to what we
really need, but there's something broken deep inside of it... We want
to find it and fix it.

I invite people to tell me what single interaction gets to them. Any
workflow that people perform that is irritating or simply broken.

A good example of this came up recently with the icon designers of the
tango project. They were using multiple files to create icons, they'd
start off with a vector graphic, and then they'd produce various sizes
of that graphic in separate files. Someone then introduced One Canvas
workflow, I think it was Jimmac but can't be sure as it was a while ago.

One canvas allowed the graphic designers to draw their images in
inkscape, at various sizes and split out from the canvas the various
sizes. It was a simple change to a work flow but has sped design of
icons up quite dramatically. 

If any of you have any ideas I'm willing to listen and discuss them with
you. Cantankerous rants are appreciated to, hate something in GNOME or
KDE? Tell me, and I'll take it into consideration.

Best Regards,

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