E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


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The anti-desktop movement

An opinionated minority of advanced computer users are rebelling against the WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointers) model of HCI. They are developing and promoting alternative interfaces (typically desiigned to work with unix-based systems) that embody their opinions.

I haven't used any of these yet, but here are the ones I keep encountering references to:

Most if not all of these credit the terminal-only GNU Screen (a program I do use) with inspiration. The ideas of Jef Raskin undoubtedly are a factor too.

It's an interesting, obscure, significant little movement (if I dare use that term). It's worth keeping your eye on antidesktop.net to see where this all goes.

Friday, March 16th, 2007
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0 comments pending approval
Comment from Matt Rose , later that day

You forgot about the new OLPC UI Sugar

Comment from Paul , later that day

I wouldn't have thought to include that, but you're right -- there are definitely shared motivations there. I think one reason Sugar doesn't feel like it fits in is that all the other projects I listed have a certain air of... crankiness!

Comment from Matt Rose , 3 days later

That's kinda why I thought it was necessary, I guess. The desktop may not be the best UI metaphor, but after looking at those other UIs, I wasn't really impressed. They're minimalistic, but there's nothing particularly innovative, and for all the faults of GNOME, or the OSX gui, they allow me to get anything done easily.

Comment from Olivier Ansaldi , 3 days later

Hi Paul,

check out WMII and the even leaner DWM. I haven't had the time to investigate the latter but I had a great time with the former. For development I think it is one of the best WM. For browsing, gimp'ing and so on, where the mouse tends to rule, it's a bit too limited.

I'm sure you'll appreciate the philosophy behind these WM!

Comment from henrik , 2 weeks later


Sorry, but most anti GUI movements are not based on making the average user more efficient, but rather make the specialist user feel better. I am not really convinced that the specialist user is actually all that efficient on average.

I find it very hard to take most of these arguments serious when there are so many obvious usability improvements yet to be done for shells.

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