21 December 2003
While designing my latest desktop wallpaper, it got me thinking about how personal someone's computer desktop becomes. It's really the only (non-case mod) part of your computer that truly becomes your own. Elsewhere you are bound by the rules of your incumbent operating system, but on your desktop it's easy to control your wallpaper, what icons you place there, and where you place them.
If you really want a glimpse into the dark recesses of someone's mind, just look at their desktop. I've seen people cover every entire pixel of their desktop with icons (so that it takes just as long to find the icon as it would the actual program). I've seen icons arranged around the edge of a screen like it was a dinner table setting. Some like them in grids (Vulcans), others seem to consult chicken entrails to determine their positioning.
One of the biggest defining factors in desktop layout that I've experienced is Windows vs. Mac. All of the Mac users that I have seen seem to use the entrails of a number of species of animals to map out their icons, and end up with the icon equivalent of cyclone damage. I'm not sure whether Macs have a "line up icons" function, but I'm sure that its existence in Windows contributes to the orderly nature of a lot of its desktops.
Me? I'm a bit of a mixed bag. At work I like to switch it around a lot – possibly a product of my need to procrastinate. Currently, there's a world map wallpaper and icons positioned as capital cities, grouped by function on continents. A little disorienting at first, but you get used to it. At home it's a different story – no wallpaper, just blue, and because my icons change so often I just let them run free.
Is your OS/2 Warp desktop the spitting image of Charles Manson's? Tell us before you're incarcerated or committed.
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