Since its inception and rise to popularity in the mid 80’s, what is largely understood as the “desktop metaphor” for interactive visual computer interfacing has barely so much as been challenged as the dominant form of computer interaction. Even with the rise of smart-phones and pocketable computers, the user-interfaces remain derivative of this metaphor.

It’s easy for us to translate the screen-scape as a desktop for several reasons. First, the PC largely implanted itself in the consciousness of humans via its rise to ubiquity in white collar workplaces, where it actually did replace the desktop. What was once a physical, three dimensional system of file drawers and “work” space was easily replaced by the two dimensional folders, and work/image processors. Second, it’s easy. By not radically shaking our understanding of data systems and workflow, it can be a quick transition to understanding the systems. But is easy necessarily right? is the goal of computer interface designers to make the easiest system, or the most natural, or the most logical?

What is your understanding of user interfaces? Do any of you use or have used alternative interfaces? Command line? Virtualization? Do you think it is important that interfaces change? Do you think it is strange that the speed and ability of computers has improved drastically in the past 20 years but the way we interact with them has largely remained unchanged?