Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Agile Computing

Linux Containers: Article

Slashdot & The Future of Operating Systems

Who'd be a software visionary in a world of Slashdottings and disparagement?

A wise man once quipped that "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Matt Hartley, a contributing writer to OSWeekly.com, discovered the truth of this first-hand - and painfully - this week when an item that he'd written got picked up (and its content mauled) by Slashdot.

Hartley's crime was to have written a futuristic sketch that he titled "A New Kind of OS." In it, he mused aloud about what he described as "the obvious advantages to an operating system that actually morphed and adapted to the needs of the users instead of the other way around." His big idea, in summary, that one's computer might in the future be more like a "probability engine" - operating 24x7 in "adaptive mode" and learning, from the ways we'd used our PC or our Mac in the past, how we'd probably prefer it to behave in the future:

Consider the obvious advantages to an operating system that actually morphed and adapted to the needs of the users instead of the other way around. Not only is there no such OS like this, the very idea goes against much of what we are currently seeing in the current OS options in the market.
The response of the Slashdot community was to belittle Hartley for being "lame" at best - and "filled with highfalutin and banal platitudes" at worst.  According to one poster, "This article shows the level of understanding of a middle-age soccer mom."

"What's such a dumb article, so wrong about what an OS is, doing in OS Weekly?" lamented another. And here, really, was the problem. What Hartley had been musing out loud about was not a futuristic OS at all: it was, if anything, a futuristic User Interface (UI).

"The features [Matt Hartley]] describes are not OS features," thundered Doc Ruby. "They're app features. There's nothing stopping an app developer from including those features in an app running on any OS, or even a cross-plaform app running on Windows/Linux/OSX."

Besides, as another poster pointed out, "This sort of 'adaptive learning' for applications has already been done, albeit in a limited and utterly frustrating way, courtesy of MS Office and their magical hiding menus."

"The mistake that Windows and many GUI systems have made," wrotes another, "is in trying to HIDE the system in metaphor. It always backfires, because although a transparent system may be harder to learn, it is far, far easier to deal with once the learning curve has been climbed."

His point was that, since we've discovered that even the simplest metaphoric GUI requires 'training,' well.. ."you may as well train the end user how it actually WORKS instead of trying to hide it from them in a bubble of 'interface'..."

Hartley's idea, though, however ill-expressed, resonated with at least one Slashdot reader:
'an OS that changes with you, without you having to do it with coding': Put some useful meat on that suggestion and you may become a millionaire. The computer should adapt to the user, not the other way around is not new, the problem is it's a vague aspiration which has proven difficult to nail down in any useful way. Microsoft's latest products automatically hide menu items unless you use them often, and frankly I hate it.
And here, at last, comes the connection to social software. For what Hartley, unknowingly or not, was sketching out - once you realize that he meant UI not OS - is an app that sits on a user's client and gets to know him and he goes about his business, then incorporates that knowledge into the UI defaults. And once you start thinking about that, you are indeed into some deep - yet potentially actionable - territory.

Because why stop there? If we're headed out into the future, why not go the whole nine social-software yards? Why not allow the app to process not just what programs the user uses but what data the user produces and consumes. Then Hartley's notion of a predictive engine becomes something altogether more far-reaching. One's computer would be capable of interacting with other computers, in the background, and synching up with them in terms of where you were planning to be (via parsing your calendar), how you were planning to get there (via parsing your airline bookings), and even who you were planning to be there with (by synching up others going to the same place at the same time...and who were close enough acquaintances for you to authorize them to have access to the predictive benefit of such data).

Now that is what I call social software!

An intriguing sub-problem of such an app would be authentication:
"My major concern with such a system...is what happens when some other user sits at my computer and uses it for a while. Would the 'adaptive engine' or whatever be smart enough to figure out that there was someone else there or would I have to reset my settings and have it relearn everything? Another interesting aspect would be as a constant check to make sure the allowed user is the one at tthe keyboard. Different enough input stats and the password box pops up."
But assuming this could be overcome, isn't this the Next-Gen LinkedIn of the future - making mere "social search" look like low-hanging fruit by comparison?

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
TuringTest 08/29/06 06:49:33 AM EDT

I suggest to read about Archy(formerly known as The Humane Interface). It's a proof-of-concept OS which has everything you ask for, and some more. It currently has an alpha implementation. Here's the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archy

cheapskate 08/29/06 06:43:35 AM EDT

I want an OS that I can plug into my brain as some sort of extension.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named "Media Sponsor" of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
Chris Matthieu is the President & CEO of Computes, inc. He brings 30 years of experience in development and launches of disruptive technologies to create new market opportunities as well as enhance enterprise product portfolios with emerging technologies. His most recent venture was Octoblu, a cross-protocol Internet of Things (IoT) mesh network platform, acquired by Citrix. Prior to co-founding Octoblu, Chris was founder of Nodester, an open-source Node.JS PaaS which was acquired by AppFog and ...
The Founder of NostaLab and a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, John is a unique combination of strategic thinker, marketer and entrepreneur. His career was built on the "science of advertising" combining strategy, creativity and marketing for industry-leading results. Combined with his ability to communicate complicated scientific concepts in a way that consumers and scientists alike can appreciate, John is a sought-after speaker for conferences on the forefront of healthcare science,...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...