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17. A cyberbody can be replicated or distributed over many computers; can inhabit many computers at the same time. If the Cybersphere's computers are tiles in a paved courtyard, a cyberbody is a cloud's drifting shadow covering many tiles simultaneously.

18. But the Net will change radically before it dies. When you deal with a remote web site, you largely bypass the power of your desktop in favor of the far-off power of a web server. Using your powerful desktop computer as a mere channel to reach web sites, reaching through and beyond it instead of using it, is like renting a Hyundai and keeing your Porsche in the garage. Like executing programs out of disk storage instead of main memory and cache. The Web makes the desktop impotent.

19. The power of desktop machines is a magnet that will reverse today's "everything onto the Web!" trend. Desktop power will inevitably drag information out of remote servers onto desktops.

20. If a million people use a Web site simultaneously, doesn't that mean that we must have a heavy-duty remote server to keep them all happy? No; we could move the site onto a million desktops and use the internet for coordination. The "site" is like a military unit in the field, the general moving with his troops (or like a hockey team in constant swarming motion). (We used essentially this technique to build the first tuple space implementations. They seemed to depend on a shared server, but the server was an illusion; there was no server, just a swarm of clients.) Could Amazon.com be an itinerant horde instead of a fixed Central Command Post? Yes.

Stranger Than Fiction: Computers Today

21. The windows-menus-mouse "desktop" interface, invented by Xerox and Apple and now universal, was a brilliant invention and is now obsolete. It wastes screen-space on meaningless images, fails to provide adequate clues to what is inside the files represented by those blurry little images, forces users to choose icons for the desktop when the system could choose them better itself, and keeps users jockeying windows (like parking attendants rearranging cars in a pint-sized Manhattan lot) in a losing battle for an unimpeded view of the workspace — which is, ultimately, unattainable. No such unimpeded view exists.

22. Icons and "collapsed views" seem new but we have met them before. Any book has a "collapsed" or "iconified" view, namely its spine. An icon conveys far less information that the average book spine — and is much smaller. should it be much smaller? Might a horizontal stack of "book spines" onscreen be more useful than a clutter of icons?

23. The computer mouse was a brilliant invention, but we can see today that it is a bad design. Like any device that must be moved and placed precisely, it ought to provide tactile feedback; it doesn't.

24. Metaphors have a profound effect on computing. The desktop metaphor traps us in a "broad" instead of "deep" arrangement of information that is fundamentally wrong for computer screens. Compared to a standard page of words, an actual desktop is big and a computer screen is small. A desktop is easily extended (use drawers, other desks, tables, the floor); a computer screen is not.

25. Apple could have described its interface as a pure "information landscape," with no connection to a desktop; we invented this landscape (they might have explained) the way a landscape architect or amusement park designer invents a landscape. We invented an ideal space for seeing and managing computerized information. Our landscape is imaginary, but you can still enter and move around it. The computer screen is the window of your vehicle, the face-shield of your diving-helmet.

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