I have an invitation for net readers - create a metaphor for computing
systems that goes beyond the desktop cliche. Four years ago, Apple
had something with the Macintosh desktop: a new way to think about
computing. Now, everyone is copying the desktop: Microsoft, IBM,
AT&T. Even the new NeXT machine provides little more than a
desktop with some cute simulated depth.
Marshall McLuhan said that a new medium always began by
imitating the old medium: cow paths were paved to make roads for
the "horseless carriage", film began by putting a camera in front of a
play, and finally, computer screens now look like a desktop. What if
we really let go into our new medium; what should a computer work
space really look like?
William Gibson described a *space where computer cowboys
"consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of
legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught
mathematical concepts ... A graphic representation of data
abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human
system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the
nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like
city lights, receding ..." (pg 51, Ace paperback edition of
What does your *space, or whatever you would call it, look like.
I'm interested in suggestions that are practical and serious, in
particular, suggestions constrained by current technology in screens,
keyboards, mice, etc. I'm also interested in suggestions that are
fanciful and poetic.
We get to create a medium from scratch - what should it look like.
Note: please mail your suggestions to me directly. I will post a
collection of the results.
Send suggestions to:
or, using normal mail:
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260