What will people do with this computer?

Seth Nickell’s point about the distinction between what people will do with a computer, versus what they could do is the perfect antidote to the endless “they crippled my window manager” arguments. The arguments seem to have lessened thanks to stern management of GNOME’s goals, but Seth’s thermostat example is a classic if needed for future use.

When I first came over to the GNOME world four years ago, one of the first bits of documentation I wrote was for the old desk-guide applet. I was fascinated by the fact that you could have a bunch of different desktops that you could click back and forth among, but the terminology and strange behaviors left me a bit confused. I ended up writing this:


Different window managers use different jargon to describe virtual desktops and the subdivided workspaces within them. Enlightenment divides your working area into “desktops,” and then subdivides those into “screens.” Sawfish, formerly known as Sawmill divides your working area into “workspaces” and then subdivides those into columns and rows. Desk Guide applet calls the workspaces “desktops” and the areas within them “viewports”. See your window manager’s documentation for more informaton on setting up and managing your virtual workspaces.

Yikes! That’s way worse than Seth’s thermostat. And now I can’t remember. Was it viewports the evil Havoc Pennington took away? Or was it workspaces?


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