As I was reading Manovich’s article, I couldn’t help but re-count memories of my family’s first computer.. We bought an HP with a 70-something megahertz processor, and a few megabytes for a hard drive. I remember it was something because it had a CD-ROM drive! This also happened to be one of the first personal machines with Windows 95 on it.
We started up the computer, however I remember that Windows automatically opened this program that put the user in a home setting. (For the life of me I can’t find info on this ANYWHERE on the web, however huge bonus points to whomever can find the name of this program.. It’s not Microsoft Bob.) Inside this home setting, one would click on the bookshelves to access the encyclopedia, or click on a calendar on the wall to view the calendar. If the 14K/sec modem was connected to the internet, you could click on the window to look up the weather. As the user moved from room to room in 3D motion, the user had a whole multitude of options open to them.. Truly mind blowing considering this was 1995.
Why did this not catch on? Looking back, it was actually pretty damn good design. Although I was only eight years old and the most technologically advanced patron of my household, our more experienced neighbor would come over to teach us how to use the computer and would always immediately exit to Windows. This was how he was taught to use computers, so this is how he would teach it.
As much as I can remember, I don’t think the public was ready for such an interface. I REALLY wish I could go back to see and interact with this program, because I still think it has possibility to push forward new standards of technological advancements today.