More often than not, I start my training course with a parable I adore.
|Image by Furryscaly|
A group of scientists made an experiment. They gathered a few rats in a box and started to lower a piece of cheese for them. Once the rats started to jump in the attempt to be first to reach the cheese, scientists poured cold water on them. This way, they taught these rats not to jump while the cheese is in the air. Wait until it is on the floor.Why do I like the parable? Because very often people see only one way of doing things, and simply because everyone does the same. But there is always another way, and sometimes this way is better than the old one.
Then, one of the rats was replaced with a fresh one. Cheese started to come down and new rat… did not move!
One after another, all the trained rats were eventually replaced with rats who never felt cold water on their skin. But… no one jumped for the cheese!
Why? Because this was a rule for the place!
Stop, you may think. What has all this to do with Linux and Open Source?
It actually has lots to do! Not only for Linux, but also for the mightiest competitor: Microsoft Windows. Years 2011 and 2012 brought, and will bring, significant changes to all of these operating systems. Maybe not on the core level, but certainly on the user interface level. Unity, GNOME3, and now Windows 8 user interface styles are... I won’t say they are bad or wrong. I will say they are different.
Many people wrote on the Internet about their rants, excitement, pros and contras. I myself did not stand aside from that battle. I compared them both on early stages and running in the same Ubuntu system. But the war is far from being finished. It has just started. There will be more to come when the new Windows 8 eventually hits the shelves of computer stores. This wave promises to be much stronger than the Unity and GNOME3 ones.
But why is this war happening? One of the reasons, and far from the most productive, is that people got used to "good old" principles of desktop organisation. There should be a panel, taskbar, desktop icons, panel shortcuts and so on. They must exist on the user’s desktop. They were there for 17 years now, starting from Windows 95. Or even longer, if we look at early versions of Mac OS. Where no such items exist, there is a risk for the user to feel stuck.
But does it all mean that "classical" desktop is better than "new" one? Not necessarily! The only person who should really decide is the user. Not only the user who feels himself comfortable with the CLI interface of a Unix server, but also the user whose only task on the computer is to start the Internet browser and check the e-mail or Facebook page.
Let’s stop ranting and blaming new interface in dumbness and all the sins in the world. Let users decide! Let developers follow the users’ needs and add features when and as they needed!
If you don't understand why you need to wait for the cheese to go down, don't stop others from jumping.