Posted Aug 15, 2012 16:04 UTC (Wed) by rgmoore
(✭ supporter ✭
In reply to: The Desktop
Parent article: The GNOME project at 15
Hmm, I'm not sure what camera you're using, but my digital camera has roughly the same interface as my first 110 film camera from 25 years ago... point and press the button.
I'm using a DSLR. If you compare the interface of my Nikon D800 to an older, mechanical camera like a Nikon F2, and the interface is radically different. The mechanical cameras had a handful of controls- aperture, shutter speed, film speed, timed release, manual release, and some related to film handling- that were placed where they were because they were mechanically coupled to the internal devices of the camera. The newer digital cameras have most of the old controls (obviously not the ones for film handling) but have moved them because they're coupled electrically rather than mechanically. They've also added a whole bunch of new controls for things the older cameras didn't do- metering mode, focus mode, bracketing, picture review, etc.- and many of those new functions overload the basic shutter, aperture, and shutter release controls. There's also a menu system that lets you customize the interface and access less frequently used functions. If you set it up correctly, refuse to use most of the controls, and limit yourself to older lenses, you can dumb it down to the point that it functions pretty much like an older mechanical camera, but that's like saying that GNOME is just like a VT-100 because you can open a maximized terminal window and ignore the GUI completely.
Sure, you're right. My point is that most people think the "old" interface (ie, something Windows-XP-like or XFCE-like) is perfectly adequate for desktop PCs.
And I think they're a lot like the people who are pining for a digital version of the FM2. The way we use our desktops today is actually very different from the way we used them 10 or 20 years ago, but the control paradigm hasn't caught up. The number of tasks we manage today is much larger, and (especially) the number of things that can potentially interrupt us has increased radically. Our computers are a much more complex and confusing environment than they used to be, but the ability of our interfaces to protect us from that complexity hasn't really caught up.
I think a lot of the un-Unixy behavior of applications is a response to that. We now have web browsers that basically have their own built-in window managers and manage each page in a separate process. Why? Because people want to have dozens or hundreds of tabs open at once and our desktop environments can't deal with it. Our email apps have sprouted contact managers, calendars, to-do lists, and the like. Why? Because we can't build seamless apps out of mix-and-match separate specialist components well enough to make that a sensible approach. And we can't do those things because our desktops haven't kept up with the stuff we're trying to do with them. When we expand our desktops to keep up with the way we actually use them, we're also going to have to rethink the interface. I don't know if GNOME is going in the right direction, but they're right to think that what we have isn't good enough.
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