Via Dave Winer, I found this blog entry by Don Park that questions the complexity of today's windowing operating systems. Park's observations exactly mirror what's going on not just in my household, but whenever I'm asked to help a friend or neighbor. Referring to the icon for Microsoft's Internet Explorer's, I've been asked by at least two people "Why is that an 'E' when it stands for the Web?." Can you imagine such a blasphemous question being asked in Redmond? Shock? Awe? They (the people who ask such questions) are right though. It reminds me of how confused I was the first time I drove a SAAB. Only some of the icons on the buttons in the cockpit made sense to me. Windows of course isn't alone in this affliction. As if all XML on the Internet was created equal, most of the orange buttons plastered all over the Web that say "XML" actually stand for "RSS." ZDNet? Guilty. Anyway, what caught my eye about Park's blog entry wasn't what he said, but rather, one of the points made by Phil Jones who commented (excerpt):
Here's the amazing thing : there are about 8 billion pages accessable through the browser. And not one of them is that difficult to get to. (Assuming you find links going there.)....How many OSs and desktop applications have 8 billion options and functions? Yet, access to these is through a bewildering variety of different methods : menus and submenus, button-bars, wizards, right-click on the icon to change configuration options, hidden XML configuration files, command line arguments.
I couldn't agree more (oh, and by the way, where the Web *is* right clickable, it's usually to adapt it to our desktops).
So, if we must have thick clients (big if), what could we do to make them little more than extensions of the Web (especially since HTML is kind of hard to author)? Given the way wikis make child's play out of Web authoring (and the emergence of applications like WikiCalc), instead of a desktop operating system, how about a Wiki Operating System. Call it WikiOS (WOS for short).