Kommandeering Developers Everywhere

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Excuse me, did you just call me pre-adaptive?

I will echo Aaron's recent blog entry that this paper on co-operative concepts is well worth reading. In fact, I'll be rereading it later today.

For some reason, fighting for food and mates for years has made humans a tad competitive. A necessary evil. I'm all for competition, but in some aspects of life, these core tendencies are counter-productive. Read as: you won't see me in a Walmart any time soon grappling with someone for the same 35-pound block of cheese (yes, those are both shots at Walmart and the related American consumption crisis).

So how does this apply to KDE?

Biological explanation:
Because we, along with our desktop peers, have reached escape velocity for survival. The risk of the software ecosystem making us extinct is asymptotically approaching zero. Apart from some unforeseen technological cataclysm, the current players (and maybe some new ones) are here to stay. So as our surroundings stabilize, we need to drop the survival instincts and move to more advanced ideas about societal structure and its benefits. Let's move away from food and shelter concerns and move toward actualization and philanthropy.

Marketing explanation: As I've ranted before, new markets trumpet the importance of the paradigm, not of their own product or service. It's counterproductive and dissonant to chirp about how one desktop is generically better than the other; that turns off potential "consumers." Will someone view a solution as mature if the creators are not?

So, what's important? Preaching the viability of the open source desktop to certain user profiles. Once educated, the prospective user can then determine whether GNOME, KDE, Xfce, or other that best suits their needs. Example: At trade shows for new markets such as EAI/BAM/SOA/Web Services, speakers talk about the importance of the solution, not about their company. Insightfulness and credibility lead interested parties to learn more about the speakers and their respective solutions, not bullet point arguments of superiority.

Cooperation on cross-platform solutions only help to mitigate new user risk. Why would we want to introduce some sort of open source vendor lock-in?

Technology explanation: It's easy to make fun of some standards committees. It's easy to make fun of bureacracy. But when it comes together, it's high-fives all the way around. But let's be clear: By standards I mean interoperability, not homogeneity. I don't want people locked into KOffice any more than MS Office. TCP/IP, XML, ODF: decoupling, modularity, choice. Good and successful standards flourish when they allow for and foster heterogeny.

Conclusion: Efforts such as this project are hopefully pre-adaptive. These efforts (along with past collaborations) set the stage for a mature Linux desktop for more and more user profiles. I'd rather that KDE have 45% of 20 million new open source desktops than 95% of 2 million new open source desktops.

So many thanks to those that are putting in the hours from the various software communities on such co-operation; everyone's going to benefit.


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