It's worth noting that this was the scheme at PARC and was used heavily later 
in Etoys. 

This is why Smalltalk has unlimited numbers of "Projects". Each one is a 
persistant environment that serves both as a place to make things and as a 
"page" of "desktop media". 

There are no apps, only objects and any and all objects can be brought to any 
project which will preserve them over time. This avoids the stovepiping of 
apps. Dan Ingalls (in Fabrik) showed one UI and scheme to integrate the 
objects, and George Bosworth's PARTS system showed a similar but slightly 
different way.

Also there is no "presentation app" in Etoys, just an object that allows 
projects to be put in any order -- and there can many many such orderings all 
preserved -- and there is an object that will move from one project to the next 
as you give your talk. "Builds" etc are all done via Etoy scripts.

This allows the full power of the system to be used for everything, including 
presentations. You can imagine how appalled we were by the appearance of 
Persuade and PowerPoint, etc.


We thought we'd done away with both "operating systems" and with "apps" but 
we'd used the wrong wood in our stakes -- the vampires came back in the 80s.

One of the interesting misunderstandings was that Apple and then MS didn't 
really understand the universal viewing mechanism (MVC) so they thought views 
with borders around them were "windows" and view without borders were part of 
"desktop publishing", but in fact all were the same. The Xerox Star confounded 
the problem by reverting to a single desktop and apps and missed the real media 

They divided a unified media world into two regimes, neither of which are very 
good for end-users.



> From: David Barbour <>
>To: Fundamentals of New Computing <> 
>Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:58 AM
>Subject: Re: [fonc] Task management in a world without apps.
>Instead of 'applications', you have objects you can manipulate (compose, 
>decompose, rearrange, etc.) in a common environment. The state of the system, 
>the construction of the objects, determines not only how they appear but how 
>they behave - i.e. how they influence and observe the world. Task management 
>is then simply rearranging objects: if you want to turn an object 'off', you 
>'disconnect' part of the graph, or perhaps you flip a switch that does the 
>same thing under the hood. 
>This has very physical analogies. For example, there are at least two ways to 
>"task manage" a light: you could disconnect your lightbulb from its socket, or 
>you could flip a lightswitch, which opens a circuit.
>There are a few interesting classes of objects, which might be described as 
>'tools'. There are tools for your hand, like different paintbrushes in Paint 
>Shop. There are also tools for your eyes/senses, like a magnifying glass, 
>x-ray goggles, heads-up display, events notification, or language translation. 
>And there are tools that touch both aspects - like a projectional editor, 
>lenses. If we extend the user-model with concepts like 'inventory', and 
>programmable tools for both hand and eye, those can serve as another form of 
>task management. When you're done painting, put down the paintbrush.
>This isn't really the same as switching between tasks. I.e. you can still get 
>event notifications on your heads-up-display while you're editing an image. 
>It's closer to controlling your computational environment by direct 
>manipulation of structure that is interpreted as code (aka live programming).
>On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 10:29 AM, Casey Ransberger <> 
>A fun, but maybe idealistic idea: an "application" of a computer should just 
>be what one decides to do with it at the time.
>>I've been wondering how I might best switch between "tasks" (or really things 
>>that aren't tasks too, like toys and documentaries and symphonies) in a world 
>>that does away with most of the application level modality that we got with 
>>the first Mac.
>>The dominant way of doing this with apps usually looks like either the OS X 
>>dock or the Windows 95 taskbar. But if I wanted less shrink wrap and more 
>>interoperability between the virtual things I'm interacting with on a 
>>computer, without forcing me to "multitask" (read: do more than one thing at 
>>once very badly,) what's my best possible interaction language look like?
>>I would love to know if these tools came from some interesting research once 
>>upon a time. I'd be grateful for any references that can be shared. I'm also 
>>interested in hearing any wild ideas that folks might have, or great ideas 
>>that fell by the wayside way back when.
>>Out of curiosity, how does one change one's "mood" when interacting with 
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