Gnome, the Universe & Everything
I have to say that I'm surprised(and maybe a bit worried) that it was Seth that brought up this whole lack of motavation/direction thing. Why? Because he is/you are one of the biggest injectors of new ideas into the Gnome project. Storage and SystemServices are two of the most promising new projects that I've heard of in the last few months, maybe even this year. On a purely practical level I'd try and get these two into the world - people's interest and maybe even contribution tends to be highly motavating.
As for where Gnome is going, this is how I see it (and none of your damned metaphors either ;) ):
Gnome 2.x Is about filling holes and making what we have at the desktop level really usable without any major changes. This is a pretty big list, but some of the areas are pretty interesting. This includes Multimedia(gstreamer, totem, rhythmbox etc..), Networking(network browsing, desktop sharing, file sharing), Desktop usability (menus, mime system, nautilus, control center), Digital Imaging (as yet we have very little really but there is some movement, need photo managment and editing, scanning, ocr), Internet (IM, IRC, Web Browsing, E-Mail: lots done, lots still to do), Printing, System Configuration, etc.....
The list goes on, and IMHO they are all areas where we have opportunities to excell and "be the best". But also IMHO we need to have a lot of these holes filled before we can really see a lot of popularity within the hacker comminity...
Gnome 3.x This is when the fun starts. As I see it we will have new technologies like storage to blow the user away, and Gnome will get closer than ever to the system with help from HAL, SystemServices and friends. Mono will be nice and mature making C# development for Gnome a breeze, opening up Gnome development to the seas of Uni students who have been tought Java/C#.
This might also be the age where we see freedesktop really come into it's own, and maybe we will see more code sharing between projects..
... I don't know if we really need a "grand plan" at this stage :/ there are so many un-grand things to be done... (eg. Making gnome-vfs reliable and useful for things like menu editing, ftp, ssh, smb, nfs)