[linux-elitists] Re: GNOME > you

Jeremy Hankins nowan@nowan.org
Fri Jan 2 12:11:46 PST 2004

Jeff Waugh <jdub@perkypants.org> writes:
> <quote who="Jeremy Hankins">

>> To put it differently: getting a job done is just a matter of
>> expressing it in the idiom of the interface.  This applies whether
>> the interface is English or Python, basketball or MS Word.  Choosing
>> the right idiom is essential if you want to work efficiently.
>> Ignoring this fact is, as far as I can tell, a mistake unique to the
>> computer field.  This is all the more ironic as with computers we
>> have much more control over the idiom we use.
> "Choosing the right idiom is essential if you want to work
> efficiently."
>   Oh, but that's so old-world. Surely we can do better than that
>   nowadays.

Sure.  All idioms are both created and chosen.  This is part of what it
means to interact with something other than yourself.  This has been the
case since the first cell grew cilia to swim the ocean currents.  Part
of it comes from you and part of it comes from outside.  The only
difference is that with the advent of computers theorizing about this
has become a bit more practical a pastime.  And, "when first we practice
to theorize...."  Like deception, it's hard to get it right once you
start thinking too hard about it.  Unlike deception, it's generally
worth it in the end.

> *You* can still choose, because you have the geeky passion in your
> loins for these kinds of choices. Why should everyone else be lumped
> with the same choices? Why should they be so exposed to the mechanics?

It's all about freedom (i.e., the power to interact with your
environment).  If you don't care about it I'm not going to try to teach
you.  But I still think you're dead wrong.  And it should be no surprise
that free software tends to create freer interfaces.

> Why can't we make the initial experience as approachable and
> satisfying as possible (even if we learn from and base it on mantras
> like "separation of structure and presentation"

Feh.  There's a word for that.  It's called a lie, and for thousands of
years many people have argued (albeit in other contexts) that nothing
good comes of it.  Even when it seems to make things run smoother at

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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