[nSLUG] Re: Lock the door...

Mike Spencer mspencer at tallships.ca
Tue Jan 6 15:01:37 AST 2009

"Daniel Morrison" <draker at gmail.com> wrote:

> Yes, I feel very passionate about this. I moved towards Linux 15
> years ago because it allowed me the possibility to explore, learn,
> and change how the computer worked, rather than forcing me into a
> 'standard', closed environment.

Yeah, me too.  I'm just a little scornful of all the effort being put
into slick GUIs -- if I wanted all that stuff, why would I have
resisted The Borg?  But since (by definition [1]) half the people out
there have an IQ under 100, I can grant that a (Mickey) Mouse- and
menu-based interface has a place.

(Do you remember when it was a condescending sneer to refer to an app
as "menu-based"?)

But unlike The Borg, where the windowing layer and GUI are integrated
into all the apps, Linux + X + (if you really gotta have it) a
KDE/Gnome desktop is in separate layers and even dedicated GUI apps
such as a graphic browser or image editor work in that environment
with that structure as the default.

>From such a perspective, everything should be configurable and what's
done in lower layers should be controllable from the higher layers.
When it's not, it's a failure of the developers.

I'm not totally happy, f'rgzample, with Netscape 4.76 (yes, I do use
that) because it's hard to figure out how to configure it but I'm way
less happy with Firefox 2 because it's harder yet.  In some cases I'm
just stumped when trying to make FF2 do what I want in place of what
the developers thought was Way Kewl.

Personally, I think many of the younger developers (younger than I,
anyhow :-) grew up from the cradle with Windoes and have internalized
that pictoral/pictograph interface as the norm.  They can write code
but they do so with pictograph IF as a target because that's what "a
computer" means to them . The user gets to *choose* one of the things
the computer knows how to do. Older developers think more in terms of
language.  If you can *say* it, the computer should be able to do what
you say.  That makes for a gradual conceptual gradient from "ls -l"
through hentracks such as:

  lynx -dump -error_file=~/News/.lynxerr -nolog -noredir -noreferer \
       -hiddenlinks=merge !*

to scripting and eventually to programming in compiled languages and
the user gradually acquires greater sophistication about what may be
meaningfully said in language the computer understands. [2]

It's not so much a matter of market-share or desktop-share as it is
mind share: most minds are now colonized by the Windoes desktop
conventions and corollary concealment or absence of underlying
controls or configuration.

- Mike

[1] Okay, that may be technically incorrect. IQ 100 is supposedly
    average, not median, but you know what I mean.

[2] Apologies for spurious anthropomorphisms.

Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^

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