Before we get into what we are doing now, I'd like to spend some time reflecting on historical context, our goals, and ambitions.
GNOME, of course, is what we design and build, and in some sense who we are. I'm pretty sure we're all here because we want to be, because we love it, and want it to be great. And perhaps most importantly are willing to do what is necessary to make it so. We are part of GNOME and GNOME is very much part of us.
We are also part of a larger Free Software movement. One of the most important parts.
And as we pull back even farther, we see that we are part of the upsweep of a wave that may transform the world as substantially as the agricultural and industrial revolutions before it. I'd like to share with you a bit of history that I find interesting and may provide some insight into our own time. It is widely known that, shortly after the invention of the steam engine, the philosophical writings of Rousseau, Kant, and others inspired revolutionary ideas in colonial America and France. What is less known is that some of these same ideas also helped form the foundations of modern aesthetics. And I'd like to look at that in a bit more detail.
Philosophers love duality. Not unlike hackers I suppose. Or computers. And this is one view of one of the the classics: empiricism vs. rationalism. And one of Rousseau's views on the matter.
And here is another example of that same division. This time, Kant's philosophy in the words of Friedrich Schiller. Empirical or sensual on the left. Rational or formal on the right. Pretty typical of the distinction made at the time.
He departed from some of his contemporaries in suggesting that there may be a third drive that tends to balance or harmonize the opposing drives. He called this the Play Impulse. And the object of that drive is life and shape in harmony.
A thing we call Beauty.
In and as a result of this play we improve ourselves. We learn and grow. And it affords a new form of freedom – an unfettered freedom – a freedom of the spirit.
Another important point is that the process of producing something beautiful begins with limitation, constraint, and exclusion. A thought must be formed and shaped and refined.
And we are left with a rather unexpected result: that in creating beauty, by discarding other possibilities, may yield a more substantial form of freedom.
So, what else can we take from this?
We may ask, as we often do, for whom do we create? What is our “target audience”? Well, who deserves to behold beauty and experience freedom? Who ought to be educated, elevated, and connected to the world? Who wants peace, happiness, and moments of contemplation? Who is permitted to participate in the future? These are human rights, Universal and eternal rights. And they are for everyone.
Though, of course, not everyone will agree.
It is my hope that a few will be touched by our work and, eventually, return to us as collaborators or, perhaps one day, as new leaders. And it is through this that we will remain sustainable. For more on this please see Shneiderman's Reader-to-Leader Framework.
There are likely other opportunities to find solutions in harmonious and dynamic balance.
And again we return to the question of what is GNOME? And this time I will offer a proposal.
We don't have that. Where should it go? Ubuntu / Fedora / Suse? I don't think that will work. Those boundaries are guarded jealously and they fight over the smallest (one) percentage of the market and mindshare. We have divided and conquered ourselves. And I think it is time that we reunite. If we want to change the game, think big, and demonstrate that we can truly be relevant we need to work together. If we want to change our approach from mere assembly to something that we design and construct with consideration in a unified and coherent way - then we need to start at the source. We need to start with GNOME.
What lies underneath is mostly just implementation detail. What matters is what we expose to the user and the developer. I propose that we take notes from Android, WebOS, Meego, and others and consider Linux an implementation detail and start to define the OS as we see fit.
One potential future.
The first step is GNOME 3.0.
For me, the answer is clear.
1. Shell Yes! Deep inside the GNOME 3 Shell design William Jon McCann
4. Free Software
5. Third Wave of Revolution
6. “If it is reason which makes man, it is feeling which guides him.” Rousseau (not the one with the rifle)
7. Feeling Reason Sense Form Natural Artificial Actuality Necessity Action Reflection Life Shape
8. Feeling Play Reason Sense Form Natural smaller Artificial Actuality lighter Necessity Action Reflection Life Shape Living Shape
9. Feeling Play Reason Sense Form Natural smaller Artificial Actuality lighter Necessity Action Reflection Life Shape Living Shape Beauty =
10. “Lofty serenity and freedom of the spirit, combined with strength and vigor, is the mood in which a genuine work of art should leave us.” Friedrich Schiller
11. “It's an ability to select among the unlimited possibilities and return considerable richness to the world.” Charles Eames
12. “ It is through Beauty that we arrive at Freedom.” Friedrich Schiller
14. Everyone deserves beauty and freedom
15. “Render to your contemporaries what they need, not what they praise.” Friedrich Schiller
16. “[Art] can be to Man what love is to the hero... she can educate him to be a hero. She can summon him to action and furnish him with strength for all that he ought to be.” Friedrich Schiller
17. False Dilemmas Novice Expert Simplicity Complexity Solitary Social Information Interruption Focused Aware Flowing Bumping
18. What is GNOME?
19. Our aim is to build a beautiful operating system that will improve the world.
20. An operating system is: <ul><li>A well formed and recognizable user experience
21. A common application developer experience
22. An application ecosystem and marketplace </li></ul>