Reflecting on reflective computing.

Christopher Barry
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 14:30:26 -0700

Hey guys,

Been lurking awhile, and just curious about a few things.

Firstly, and most importantly, have you guys *really* questioned what
our computers are for and why they are useful? You might make this
really cool OS based on <insert novel ideas here> that uses <insert
buzzwords> technology, but what difference is say running a word
processor on Tunes going to make to the average MS Word user or AOLer?

Fundamentally: If Tunes is going to host more intuitive and natural
software that allows the non-technical user to do more powerful things
with less effort, then why is Tunes needed to host this type of software
and why couldn't it be done with Linux, which I'm sure you all know
about the progress being made with GNOME and Redhat and Debian so that
Joe User doesn't need to worry about /etc/rc* and permissions and
everything else the MacOS and Windows and other "consumer utility"
operating systems hide.

And for the more technical user, well, I'm *very* pleased with Linux.
I've wired my WindowMaker desktop to be macro driven and I can have 30
application windows open and immediately get to any desktop with one
macro and then cycle through the applications, or I can use my more
extensively defined Emacs style macros to immediately get to anything

And the applications are very impressive to. XEmacs is perfection to me,
the elisp indentation engines for various types of editing completely
eliminate redundant operations, and you can immediately get to anywhere
at any time with a few macros.

Applications are what we use our computers for, and it seems that,
particularely in the free software community, that most people spend
their time developing development, rather than developing applications.
We have language compilers for everything under the sun, and people
continue to develop these things and similar things so that they can
develop more development tools and it goes on... most development effort
in the free software community isn't focused on making the applications
that computers could actually allow us to do useful work with to
accomplish goals in the real world, but only to further the development
process itself, which is pointless.

I see how Linux imposes many limitations on the application developer,
but I don't see how it limits the power of the UI and functionality of
the application itself.

What audience are you guys targeting Tunes for anyways?

It seems that what is really needed is not another OS, since we have
Linux and Linux is good, but rather truly intelligent and revolutionary
applications that sit atop Linux that allow real world goals to be

Would not all of your time be better spent writing intelligent
algorithms in Common Lisp or scheme and trying to make a really cool
application that uses them. Ultimately it would be cool if we could talk
to our computers and tell them what kind of work we need them to do
without the error prone and frustrating process or programming and
learning difficult to use and slow learning curve applications. I can
see how you guys have some goals to this end, but I don't see why you
need to write a new OS to do it, instead of just writing algorithms atop
of Linux that may someday have the intelligence to assist you in
replacing and extending what is no longer adequate with Linux.