ZUI : Zooming User Interface
There will be 3 zoom levels (will be more like 45% and 8% to allow space between groups): 100%, 50%, and 10%. (Note: 50% fits 4 groups and 10% fits 100)
Mockup of 50% view (with only 2 desktops)
The idea is this: plasmoids (launchers, icons, widgets, games, mini-apps, etc) exist in groups. A group can be displayed to take up the full area of the screen. This is what one would most likely recognize as "the desktop" today. You are not, however, limited to just one full screen group. You can have several.
When you zoom out, you see these various groups and the plasmoids within them shrink to mere icons. This lets you pan around and rearrange plasmoids or pick another group (and little else).
Zoom out once more and the groups become little iconified versions of themselves and the plasmoids themselves disappear. This view lets you see all your groups at once even if you have a lot of them. pick one and you zoom in on it.
The idea is to allow one to manage collections of items by grouping them and then quickly switching between them using zoom-and-pan where zoom provides overview (lowering detail), pan provides navigation and unzoom increases detail again (implying selection of another group to use).
Should plasmoids be iconified or zoomed out?
Aaron works at home. you can tell he's a happening fellow by his name. As such he does a lot of things with his computer, not just work. He separates his work from his family from his play "lives" on his computer by arranging different desktop sets. Aaron uses the zoom-and-pan to quickly switch between "work" and "family" groups during the day.
Lisa is a graphic designer. At any given time she is working on projects for 2-4 clients. she keeps the work files for each client project in a separate group, each labeled according to the project title. She also keeps the contact list for the other people she's working on the project with (copy writers, the client contact, the project manager, etc), the schedule calendar and current todo list (sync'd to the company's groupware/calendaring server) with each group. As she moves from one project to another, she zooms-and-pans to the appropriate group.
Josh is a 16 year old lay-about. He should be working on his chem homework but instead is playing on facebook and myspace. He has the plasmoids for different sets of friends in different groups according to clique and a grouping for his class work. When he hears his mom approaching he quickly zoom-and-pans to the work grouping.