The Personal in Personalisation


Not unlike the Bowerbird, there is something fairly primal in our psyche that drives us to stand out from the crowd by tailoring and customising aspects of our environment and personal objects. It's partly in pursuit of ergonomic tailoring and possibly more so about staking our claim on the world, or some little bubble of it as individuals. This is also true of our computers.

We all have, at the very least, our own preference of desktop wallpaper; for many that is only the beginning however. It's possible on many operating systems to alter all aspects of the interface, and in some cases (as with Linux) you may even have a choice of differing interfaces and paradigms. There are some amongst us that feel compelled to delve into and tweak their computing environment; always in pursuit of the next refinement, the next cool idea or simply indulging their whimsy.

Sometimes it is almost a badge of honour: having the know-how and expertise to finesse your machine into a beautiful, unique, efficient animal tuned to your needs like a high-performance sports car. Other times it is a moral imperative: the utilisation of free software and co-operative open standards and inclusive user-licencing. The very democratisation of computing and information technology can be expressed in so simple a way as giving the new tools a try-out.

We don't all have the same requirements, the same drives or derive the same satisfaction from the iterative refinement of our tools. One man's nirvana is another's frustration - but that isn't to say that there's no value in it. Few endeavours can be described by a single perfect methodology and it seems that it's easy to forget that what is right for us can be wrong for another.