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Plain and Heard Before

Published on Sunday January 07, 2007 by englich in Aggregated | Comments

Celeste is doing historical research on KDE’s usability. To her request for my comment on things, I modestly replied:

I think my effective contributions are modest, although one could say I’ve tried. But I can of course always express my view.

Her response, which made me think, was:

Your view is what matters to me, not some generalized or idealistic view from the usability contributors themselves. I have certainly learned some interesting things from the developers.

One could of course take that as a negative comments towards “the usability contributors” but I think it was to address a certain problem.

Aaron wrote in a recent blog entry:

[…] It punishes developers like Tim for speaking openly about the challenges we face. the free software community relies on our ability to speak openly and honestly to each other; if we start to get punished for it then we have a real problem.

Although the blog entry is in general about a certain article, Aaron is in that paragraph simply pointing out that being able to talk and address issues is dead important.

As reply to one of Celeste’s questions on KDE’s usability, I wrote:

One thing I admire the GNOME project much of, is their ability to change. They manage to get ideas /implemented/ in their main
line, without getting shot down at the proposal-stage. Those ideas might one disagree with or they are perhaps even downright wrong, but the ability to
change, to test new ideas, is a prerequisite for reaching the right ideas. Progress isn’t a linear progression of constantly correct changes, and the
working process must be adapted for that.

I can’t name a particular achievement, but each time a usability idea advances from being a proposal to being tried on the practical level, progress
is happening.

which as well merely says “don’t shoot down ideas just because they’re different or sound bad.” I’m of course only speculating from my view on things, but it wouldn’t surprise me if many nods to that it can be difficult to not have an idea stalled as early as when it is a suggestion.

Open Source and Free Software, at least if we go back in time, was a liberator for sick things in the IT industry, and will continue to be so, as long as those values are withheld. But perhaps the community is too consumed with its achievements on the democratic side, to see the sides of itself that fights its own mindset.

Belief fucks up mankind in spectacular ways. “We just need a revolution from system X to system Y and we will have no more corruption”, “It is ok to reduce the democratic rights for Them because They are not Us”, “We don’t have to listen because we are right”, and other countless examples that demonstrates people thinking there is a difference between people as long as they have a different skin color, operating system, religion, political system, desktop environment, and so on.

My point is simple and well repeated: openess is important. This time, it’s being emphasized for the open source community. Things will stall if ideas from GNOME are on mailing lists tuted as evilness, if less technically minded users are What’s Wrong, if KDE is considered to always be perfect, or if new ideas are shot down for not being what we have. And blogs isn’t the only way ideas are expressed, what ideas that are implemented in software, is another way as well.

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