Need for a new metaphor on Operating Systems?

17 Jun 2009 - 7:43am
5 years ago
7 replies
3417 reads
Jose E.
2008

Hi IxDAers,

I just posted a blog post on my 'obsession theme': the need of a
metaphor/paradigm change on current Operating Systems.

The blog post is over here
http://nlapse.com/blog/the-need-for-a-new-metaphor/
and I'll like to discuss about this idea.

So my opinion is that the current "application centered" OSs are
not suiting anymore the needs for connectivity, real-time and
socialization we have now days. A change is needed.

What you think? Happy with your current OS?

Comments

17 Jun 2009 - 8:25am
Nikhil paul
2009

Hi jose,
True that,

Its been 30 years since the desktop came into existence and it has
become the standard user interface. While, the web has evolved in
leaps and bounds, leaving enough room for innovation and grabbing
most of our attention. While everyone else is focusing on web we are
trying to innovate the OS domain. We started designing and developing
a new Os called "itsme" in 2008. itsme is based on the metaphor of
"stories and venues". This basically means that everything users do
is in the context of different stories they live with other people and
sometimes alone. itsme is an opensource Os embodying the venue
metaphor in its front end. Venue is the place where every item
related to a story can be located within organized channels
indicating relations across channels. All in all it helps its users
to manage the complexity of their social environment.

I can go on and on about it, so its better if instead i direct you to
this link http://itsme.it/project/

I think there is a lot of room for discussion with regards to this
metaphor and lately we were discussing the potential of vertical
segments.

any comments ?
Nikhil

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 Jun 2009 - 8:41am
Nikhil paul
2009

i just read you post on the blog.
Can "stories and venues" be the next metaphor ?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 Jun 2009 - 9:31am
Jeff Garbers
2008

I think you're more likely to find new metaphors on mobile devices
(such as iPhone) than on the desktop computer. There, I have a
feeling that we've reached our QWERTY point: as with that keyboard
layout, the current approach is ubiquitous, fairly well understood,
and works adequately, so deviations from it are unlikely to become
mainstream. I think we're looking at many years of incremental
refinement -- graphical enhancement, visual effects, etc. -- and
nothing in the way of fundamental change. On other kinds of devices,
the field is wide-open.

I also feel like you didn't made the case for needing a new
metaphor. New applications and functionality are emerging
constantly. In what way does the desktop limit anybody other than
creative OS designers?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 Jun 2009 - 10:44am
Jose E.
2008

Hi Nikhil,

The istme project is really interesting, but I think the "stories
and venues" metaphor is a little short for the complexity of today.
I guess the power of the next metaphor have to be in the "task" and
"relations" between people and documents. For instance you have to
be able to work the same way with all documents related to a project,
or access quickly all documents related to a person. That's failing
today.

@Jeff Garbers

You are right saying we reached our QWERTY point. But the current
metaphor is limited, for instance: when you want to access all
documents related with a project, including: emails, texts, photos,
databases, etc; all that "reside" in a different application and
you have to jump from a work flow to another to get things done. And
mostly these work flows are not even similar at all. The truth is we
are so used to it that we don't notice that, but step back a minute
and you will realize how bad the current metaphor is.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 Jun 2009 - 11:19am
Jeff Garbers
2008

Jose - you're right that it's awkward to have stuff for a given
project scattered across multiple apps. I think there's a fairly
simple fix to that: a smart system-wide model for tagging objects
(files, emails, database records, etc.) I've noticed, for example,
that I often have email folders that correspond closely to filesystem
folders -- why have to define those twice and keep 'em in sync?
There are early efforts along these lines in OS X (the OpenMeta
project, but it's not widely supported).

An app-centric approach is not necessarily bad, since the tasks that
one does with a given kind of information vary greatly. If you're
editing a video, you want a video-editing UI, and if you're creating
an email, you want an email-centric UI. We've had several stumbles
along the path to a document-centric approach -- embedded OLE editing
was massively confusing, for example, and OpenDoc never got off the
ground. And these days, I think many of us would agree that a
significant part of our computing day is NOT spent creating documents
in the traditional sense of the word.

If your goal is to gather and organize documents and other objects in
a meaningful way, trying to replace the desktop metaphor is overkill.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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17 Jun 2009 - 7:05pm
DampeS8N
2008

I'd say it is time for the metaphor to die. That is, the global
metaphor.

People accept their computer as a platform. The 'desktop' metaphor
is vestigial.

There is still great need for functional metaphor. Buttons that look
like buttons. But most of the metaphorical aspects of our OSs have
vanished already.

What is the metaphor behind OS X's spaces?

What i'd like to see, more than a metaphor shift, is the removal of
outdated paradigms from personal computing. A device like a
larger-screened iPhone, with the ability to multitask and sit in a
bay station to allow for mouse/keyboard input as well, would be far
better suited to the average user.

Web access, music access, video access, email, IM, notes, and the
wide range of apps you see on an iPhone are really the wave of the
future. No more files system. No more 'metaphor' for the OS. The OS
is just there and the little tools are the focus.

That's my thought anyway.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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18 Jun 2009 - 5:56am
Jose E.
2008

William you resumed almost all in your post. I agree with you. The
file system have to be revamp (at least in the GUI) to address the
documents from users in a easy way.

The average Joe don't care about filenames and extensions etc. that
stuff have to be completely transparent.

The iPhone does a nice job doing it but still is not optimum, the
notes for example are "enclosed" on the Notes app, so you can't
access notes from other app (except the search on 3.0)

Still a new metaphor/paradigm have to rise to address this issues.
Hopefully that will be soon.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42903

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