Monday Jun 04, 2007

Desktop Two dot Oh

After listening to Prof. John Maeda recently, I had a look at his laws of Simplicity. As I had noted earlier in the story of OpenGrok, it is difficult to make things simple. Maeda's work provides a set of tools achieve simplicity in a more methodical way.

These laws are generic and I can see how they can make a difference to day-to-day things. I am interested in using them for software. Also because principles of Security intersect with Simplicity. Since simple things are considered more secure than complex things.

My eyes then turned towards the Gnome JDS desktop I was using and that seemed like a good subject to experiment with laws of Simplicity. At first each window has three boxes to represent itself! One on desktop as the window itself, again on the window list in bottom panel and again in workspace switcher. That lends to first law of reduction. There is also the "launch" main menu, that could be reduced too, since there are hundreds of applications and 90% of the time I only use few applications: terminal, browser, mail client...

That raises a question, do we really need a 200 megabyte desktop that comes with 100 tiny applications? or just a browser kiosk that can also run one or two other applications... I would call that Desktop 2.0, just like network is the computer, browser is becoming the desktop.
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