My Bleeding Brains

April 7, 2011

the decline of the desktop GUI

Filed under: Uncategorized — eeplebert @ 7:50 pm

I smacked open my text editor and started punishing the keyboard this time to write about how subtle changes have been made to browsers in general and Apple’s Mac Os X operating system that bother me.

I know it’s because of the iPhone. Touch-displays have changed things that once worked, say like clicking anywhere on the screen during playback of videos to pause them in itunes, but now must be done with the GUI pause button, far clumsier than they were for traditional desktop mouse-and-keyboard users.

[And please, if I’m being pedantic or incorrect with this example, think of a similar example. YouTube doesn’t work the way it did two years ago either, GUI-wise. Everything’s drifting toward mobile use and not all the changes are good for the rest of us. This is the point I’m attempting to make.]

I don’t really hate the iPhone as much as how it’s destroying the user experience of other Apple products. Now Apple attempt to make everything else friendly to the iPhone user-base. Those who had the iPod or iPhone as their first Apple experience.

So everything else now, from iTunes to browser and the Finder itself has to mimic the iPhone experience for the chumps who’d never used a Mac before and might get scared of something unfamiliar outside their expensive little sandbox. Everything about the drift of Apple’s Mac Os X since the iPhone exploded has drifted toward spoon-feeding and coddling non-computer users.

If I could extract one lesson above all others for computer users everywhere from this rather disturbing trend of developments? It would be that you MUST learn a CLI, a unix, a linux, an Ubuntu, a DSLinux, puppy, mint, redhat, yellowdog, any open-source Operating System available out there today. Whatever your decrepit old hardware can take.

To survive in the future, you’re gonna have to find what corporations can’t f–k up, utterly mis-market, neglect into oblivion, or try to shoehorn into an ill-suited new paradigm. (If you don’t agree the iPhone is ill-suited, please see the imitations, or any mobile variant of windows.)

I’m confident that the touch-screen interface will evolve into something everyone everywhere can be proud of – given enough time and hobbyist/hacker/tinkterer style independent development. But the iOs will be looked back on as a fascist thimble compared to what we’re bound to do with the touch-screen experience once it becomes truly open to everyone. Not just a premium-priced luxury item as it is today.

Forcing, or even attempting to converge all other products into mobile-esque forms familiar to mobile users is a strangely backward way to develop for ever-increasingly capable and powerful hardware. When considering what might be done to forestall this evolutionary U-turn in GUI development, I can only suggest one thing.

Go get whatever you’ve got (or can download,) find an OSS OS and put it on a USB stick, burn a CD/DVD, install it, kick the tyres. Give it a whirl. But get outside your comfort zone by seeing just how much the OSS world has caught up to the corporate bloatware out there today.

It will be to your benefit in the future even if you don’t like it and never use it again. Seeing any other OS than Mac/Win will instill a sense of how others get the same things done. Wandering and discovery is how most power-users got that way. It comes highly recommended as a learning and self-teaching method.

I just begin to think of it as evolutionarily necessary, that’s all. It has been made, the comparison that following the path of least resistance is what makes a river crooked. Therefore it’s not always the best way to get things done, but capitalism sure does like it. So step outside that paradigm for your own good. I dare you. Go on. Evolve.

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