In a few years we are likely to have structures for the ribosome in all the conformations it assumes during protein synthesis. The golden age of ribosome structure determination is thus drawing to a close, and as it does the focus in the field will shift from structure determination to understanding why the ribosome's structure changes the way it does as it performs its function. Thus in the future, kinetic and thermodynamic experiments will become increasingly important, and as they do, the field will have to start thinking about the dynamics of the ribosome far more carefully than it has in the past. The reasoning that underlies these assertions will be explained, and a more general issue explored, namely what can be said today about the modus operandi of the ribosome. What kind of a device is it?