Diego Moya turingt at
Tue Feb 9 15:32:38 CET 2010

On 5 February 2010 18:44, Aaron J. Seigo wrote:
> Context is specific to the person in that it is the person's current internal
> state which defines which Context (if any) is applicable. it has nothing to do
> with the computer. in fact, Context is a way to make the computer reflect the
> person. you're suggesting we make the computer define the Context through a
> visual representation, when really it's something that should be global to the
> computer at any given moment.

Changing context will alter the state of
applications+plasmoids+desktop, so it's a highly modal feature. Modes
are dangerous animals for interface users, but can be made usable with
clear visual indicators. I also favor using a visual representation
for Activities to clearly show which is the current one and how it
affects the global computer state (mode). If Context is global to the
computer, then use a global visual representation.

Two possibilities I can think of for global representation of a modal state are:
- spatial layout of the different modal regions
- changing style (color, window decorations)

The first one is is more effective in avoiding mode errors (actions by
the user that don't make sense in the current mode but are valid in a
different one), but changing style also have some merit - this is how
tool palettes in graphic applications behave.

Activities shown in the Concentrate demo video are complitely
invisible except for the configuration dialog, and that's no good.

>>  So while in theory it makes sense to be able to merge vdesktops with
>> activities,
> it doesn't make any sense in theory.

It makes sense to have a physical representation for the abstract
Activity concept. Merging them with VDs is just one way to make this
happen, so it does make sense in theory. It just doesn't make sense in
practice since it's not the best possibility; it merges two different
abstract concepts into only one representation, which makes for an
easy to break interface metaphor.

> by making them easy to define and switch between. the defining bit is actually
> going to be the hardest. if we wish to tackle an interesting set of unanswered
> problems, that's probably where to head.

Not only define and switch. You must also make it easy for the user to
*think* about them. That is the hardest part.  You need a simple
mental model to explain what activities are, how can be used and why.
If you need ten paragraphs of text instructions you have failed.
That's where a physical visual representation would help, but we need
one that doesn't conflict with the already busy Desktop metaphor.

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