I don’t agree with this rationalization for the design intent of Microsoft BOB, as I interpreted the customizability of Microsoft BOB as a clever way of empowering users to optimize the layout of their virtual space—along the lines of Nielsens heuristic of recognition rather than recall [1].
I agree with Jenny’s point.

All good. I certainly wasn’t postulating this need for external representation of self as the design intent. you’re correct that no one can ever really know a designer’s true intent. Similar to the way we can never know an author or painter’s true intent yet we study and criticize their work nevertheless. I had hoped to illustrate that this feature and the insights beneath it would be much more powerful today with the added level of social connection in the digital space.