The problem, as I see it, is that GNOME is in a state of decadence -- we largely achieved what we set out to achieve, insofar as it was possible. Now our hands are full with dealing with entropic decay. Take, for example, Evolution's random walk to improvement. In most releases it's better, in a few it's worse, but basically it still works fine, and has been that way since about 3 or 4 years ago.
It's like, welcome back to 1984's Macintosh plus interweb. We did it!
As sad as it makes me, I have to admit I've felt the same about the GNOME project. I've been a fan of the project since late 90s, and I'm sad to see the state of things, but... the KDE people seem to be quite determined in their progress, while in GNOME land people seem to be mostly in conservative maintenance mode. In last GUADEC it seemed that proposals of interesting new approaches or technologies were mostly either ignored or mocked, while there seemed to be no clear path forward for the desktop.
I really hope the GNOME project is able to regain its energy and sense of purpose. The next GUADEC would be an excellent place to discuss future directions. I will be there to talk about location-aware desktop, and possibly to discuss how we use various GNOME components on the server side with Midgard.
Via Alex Graveley.