Friendly and Secure Desktop Operating System

Daniela dgw at
Tue Oct 28 11:07:53 PST 2003

On Tuesday 28 October 2003 17:43, twig les wrote:
> > Question: What makes the user stupid?
> > Answer: An environment that hides details and doesn't force
> > the users to know
> > a little bit of the thing they're working with.
> I think you are missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.  Every
> single person I know suffers from information overload.  They
> are supposed to know how to check their credit, know enough
> about their car to not get ripped off, count calories, see
> through stupid politician tricks, ponder whether there is a
> deity, pick an HMO/PPO that doesn't suck (possible?), and do
> their actual jobs.  If they have kids then double the work.  Add
> to all this the myriad things I'm forgetting and then start
> telling people about ActiveX and you can understand why they
> love Windows and Mac.

As I suggested, the ideal solution would be a user-friendly frontend to all 
the stuff, but nothing should depend on this particular frontend. Everyone 
should be free to replace it with something else and still get the same 
system services.

> > Call me paranoid, but I think this "over-userfriendlyness" is
> > quite dangerous.
> > We'll end in an environment where we don't understand
> > anything, and a few
> > companies control our lives. This might seem farfetched, but
> > we are slowly
> > walking in this direction.
> > Think about it: No knowledge - no control. And users are
> > accepting it.
> > They are just lazy and want everything to be done for them,
> > even if this means
> > they have to give up freedom.
> I'm reminded of The Cuckoo's Egg when Stoll says to an attacker
> at the end "But I don't want to secure my computer, I trust
> other astronomers."  Most people simply have better things to do
> with their time.  And the "stupid" part is a logic trap.  I
> can't stand reading poetry.  Hate it.  So some well-versed
> people could call me stupid too because I always miss the
> subtleties, and in a particular scope they would be right I
> guess.  But I simply don't care about poetry.
> Open-source is a great way to combat the dangers of
> user-friendlyness since if BSD ever decided to put DRM in the
> OS, someone would see it fast and yell.  I agree that we as a
> society are specializing too much, but I don't have a patch for
> that :).

As a first step in the right direction, all file formats used for exchange 
with other people should be open source and not bound to a single company. 
Nobody should be forced to use a particular product (even when it doesn't 
have anything to do with computers).


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