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I really don't see why we should value Linus oppinion more than anybody elses. He is a good programmer, and he is of course entitled to his oppinion, but he is neither a usability expert nor a typical computer user, in fact he might not even be a typical Linux user.
I find the fact that Apple with lots of usability experts on their pay roll, more or less blatantly copied Gnome Shell for ther Command Center in their new OS-X Lion.
So my Guess is that Gnome is not all that wrong about their direction. Both Microsoft and Apple tries to create oses that can be used on touch screens such as tablets and tables, Gnome and Linux must evolvle to to meet that brave new world.