The concept of GNOME 3.0 (aka Project Topaz) has been thrown around over the last year or two, with no clear definition or direction of the next big step in the development of GNOME.

Last year, Luis Villa blogged a few ideas that could become the future of GNOME, around an internet enabled OS, tied to an infrastructure similar to Apple’s .mac. I’ve had similar thoughts floating through my brain since then, but yesterday Havoc Pennington of Red Hat & Mugshot verbalized almost exactly what I’ve been thinking about in a way I’ve never been to articulate.

Havoc references Dave Neary’s recent interview that GNOME as a platform is becoming different things to different people, with Nokia’s implementation of Maemo on the 770 a prime example. I think Dave’s exactly right, and this strategy and direction for GNOME is a good thing.

What’s interesting to me is the future of the home user, and Havoc’s musings touches on that. GNOME could be an embedded platform or an enterprise solution, but to me it seems as most innovation is being done around the home computing user. Web services such as Flickr,, Gmail, and other social networking sites started, and still are, geared first and foremost towards the home user. Havoc’s thoughts on the target user are right on. Starting with the early adopter, the technoloy enthusiasts and influencers, and tying those people, and their stuff together, is the future.

The rumor has always been that this is what Google is doing – through Gmail archiving your email, Calendar, Google Docs – they will host your content and tie it paid search to make money. Gtalk’s contacts is a poor start, but Google Doc’s collaboration tools are a good example of tying your content to your communities.

Internet enabled is a key, but I don’t think Google has to win in this space. Giving you access to your community and your content can be done through the operating system, though Luis Villa’s thoughts from last year on a GNOME-centric .Mac type service are where this could get really interesting.

I don’t think there is a question that we are reaching a tipping point in the way operating systems are built and used – even Microsoft has alluded to Vista being the last of their operating systems being built and released in the current manner. Apple is the master of the incremental operating system, and while innovative, is still too closed source to win in this space. It will take a community to build the future, as it is about the people and how and where they use their stuff, and it is this community – the open source community, that has the best chance to innovate and create this future. And I can’t wait for the future.