1 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
the alliance between research and design
for a radical innovation in the workstation domain
§ Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
2 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.
Ye were not made to live like unto brutes,
But for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.
Dante Alighieri , La Divina Commedia, Inferno,
Canto XXVI, 119-120, Transl. by A. Mandelbaum
4 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Out of the mainstream
While everyone is looking at the Web and
at the electronic gadgets of Ambient Intelligence,
we are looking in a different direction:
at operating systems
at productivity tools and other applications
5 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Re-launching innovation in ICT
Are we wrong? No!
We are just anticipating what everyone will do in the future!
With current operating systems, we can not develop
Recent developments on workstations have increased the
number of functions and features but not improved them.
The web is not the right environment for developing
Technologies for the Knowledge SocietyInnovation has been
starving for many years.
6 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Is the market ready
for what we propose?
People are not expecting what we propose, but
The venerable ‘desktop metaphor’ looks more and more inadequate
in supporting the most demanding users of workstations
We have innovative ideas for changing the fundamental services ICT
can offer users. We believe that if we present them effectively,
people will react positively, discovering that they need what we are
7 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
A new development
and marketing strategy
Breaking the boundaries between developers and users
Open source software
A community of people involved in the initiative at different levels
Opening a wide discussion on the perspectives of the information
Bringing research again into the main game
Bringing design into the high-tech industry
8 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Our initiative has a high risk profile.
We do not promise capital gains or market shares.
Our initiative has been seriously developed within one
year of initial discussion with eminent people from
research, industry and finance.
We believe we can realize a new workstation which
users will appreciate for its innovative services.
9 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Leveraging on design
Innovative and user friendly technology, computing
Our initiative emerges at the crossroad between software
development and user experience, high-tech engineering
and interaction design, ICT and Made in Italy, product
design and stake-holders’ participation.
10 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
11 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
ICT is starving for Innovation
No real innovation in the last twenty years in operating systems,
workstations and productivity tools.
The killing applications of these past years are not innovative
No investments in improving productivity tools, email systems &
other applications and operating systems.
In conclusion, a slight but constant drift towards the ‘webization’
of ICT applications.
12 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
The limits of the desktop metaphor
Desktop metaphor has been able to order workstation
contents in a simple and intuitive way.
But it has not solved any of the problems people encounter
while managing their actions and interactions.
Where is the message John sent me about that issue? Where
did Rick tell me that important thing? Which is the relevant
part of this huge document?
13 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Workstations have not changed for over 20 years, except for
increasing their features and consequently their complexity.
Workstations are still easy to use but they are unable to
accomodate the complexity of human actions and interactions.
Workstations risk becoming browsing machines.
14 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Beyond the desktop metaphor
The desktop metaphor is over thirty years old.
And it shows!
The displays of today’s workstations are either populated
with a huge number of icons or require functional
commands to find an object.
In both cases, users frequently do not find what they are
looking for, or find the wrong thing.
15 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
A new metaphor: stories and venues
Our life interweaves a large number of different stories
Each story has its participants and objects
Each story has its venue, where you can access its participants and objects
Each person lives in several diverse interweaving venues
The new metaphor is characterized by its being plural and its reflecting
situatedness of human experience
16 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
a workstation based on the venue metaphor
At any moment, ITSME presents the venue of the story
to its owner in which he or she is acting
ITSME owners do not need to search for things: they have them ready at hand
ITSME creates, maintains and updates the venues of its owner
ITSME venues can be easily corrected, modified and/or organized by its
ITSME is not intrusive: its behavior is purely reactive
17 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
ITSME in synthesis
ITSME helps its users to manage the complexity
of their social environment
ITSME is not intelligent, increases the intelligence of its users
ITSME embodies several groupware and knowledge management services
ITSME opens new possibilities to the design of social computing systems
ITSME represents a turning point in the personal computing concept
18 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
The target users of ITSME
High value users, i.e. all those who live a great number of stories at the
same time, who have a great number of interactions with other people,
manage loads of information, but do not have adequate support to manage
the complexity of their life.
19 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
The tip of an iceberg
ITSME is the first of a new generation of ICT systems
Starving fields like operating systems, email systems,
productivity tools, groupware, knowledge management, will
be encouraged to innovate through ITSME
ITSME is an opportunity for a radical improvement of the
services offered by ICT
20 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
A three year process
Two years for the development of the front-end
(spring 2008 - spring 2010)
One year and a half for the development of a hardware
prototype (spring 2009 - autumn 2010)
Two years for the development of the migration support
system (autumn 2008 - autumn 2010)
21 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
The market conditions
Three active communities, supporting ITSME from the very beginning
Research (CSCW, KM; Interaction Design)
Open source software (Linux community)
High-Tech industry (in particular in Europe)
Good coverage of ITSME milestones by media and research community
world-wide. Support from public institutions in Italy and Europe
22 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Selling an innovation
Proving ITSME’s added value with respect to competitors.
Proving system and after market assistance reliability of the
Guaranteeing small migration costs (moving from Vista or
Macintosh to ITSME is not more costly than moving from
one version to another of those systems).
23 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
24 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
An open-source operating system embodying the venue
metaphor in its front-end.
A service supporting the migration of users from Apple and
Microsoft workstations to ITSME.
A consistent and reliable plan for further improvements of
A new workstation, with a radically new design.
25 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
ITSME / the operating system
A radically new front-end to Linux, based on two simple rules:
objects created in a venue remain there
objects arriving with the reply to a message coming from
a venue go in that venue
In the venue where a story is performed, users can access on the one hand their
partners in that story, on the other hand, the objects, email messages and web
bookmarks created, exchanged and shared in it. Objects of a venue are organized
by default on a time basis.
26 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
ITSME / the operating system
Venues may be further organized (sub-venues, folders) by users
One-click mechanisms for correcting, modifying and
A transit zone is always accessible in the screen to move
and/or copy objects
A search engine for searching in other venues
27 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
ITSME / the operating system
Applications are executed in Linux
The front-end is perfectly coupled with the underlying Linux
operating system, so that the system performs effectively
The front end is based on a newly conceived interface design
allowing users to understand effortlessy what is going on,
even when changes are not generated by the user
28 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
The migration service
Associating applications running in Vista and/or Macintosh to the
applications running in Linux, allowing users to continue working on
Selecting a Vista (Macintosh) emulator to run applications not
supported in Linux
Creating by default an ‘Old’ venue where the contents of the previous
machine is stored and presented
Defining the interaction protocol for creating new venues and placing
29 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
ITSME / further improvements
A new Linux file system, where files can be tagged, linked and
have an XML structure
An email system supporting conversations, with bi-directional
links between messages and attachments
A browser locating its bookmarks in the file system
Navigation systems within venues
Multiple views of venues
30 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
31 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
The partners of ITSME
Giorgio De Michelis, who will be its CEO
A group (≥20) of founding partners, subscribing the majority of its
A group of academic institutions (among which, University of Milano -
Bicocca, whose it will be a spin-off)
The managers of the company, who will receive warrants, allowing
them to participate in value creation
Venture capitalists, who will provide the financial resources needed to
reach its objectives
32 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
The ITSME Association
A nonprofit association will be created to better access public
funding for open source code development
GDM and ITSME will control the Association
The Association will be open to research and academic institutions
The Association will allow significant cost reduction, if design and
development will be funded by public institutions
33 § Giorgio De Michelis, March 2008
Thank you for your attention!
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