“He did not know why he chose this particular moment to emerge from hiding except that it fitted him into an acceptable flow of human movement.”
Frank Herbert

Heretics of Dune

Closed Open Source

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I am a fan of open-source. This started with WordPress and is gradually expanding to cover almost all of my information needs. I am writing this post on an old latpop I resurrected with Ubuntu and purely open-source solutions. In some cases, such as Open Office, I have had to surrender many niceties and make do with simpler and more limited tools. In other cases, such as Firefox, I have found a better overall solution and even some new useful features I didn’t have before.

Open source generally suffers from a poor user-experience. This is an issue for most software tools and developers, but commercial solutions have an upper-hand in this domain. They can afford to make design efforts to either make their products better or at least make them look cosmetically better.

Open-source is rooted in a passion for developers to express themselves – to create software the way they think it should be (technically -and morally). Open source is therefore dominated by developers. Most of “open-source” is hidden from end-users – it is a highly technical environment and social process in which developers in remote locations work together to create software – it’s a pretty amazing process. Though it’s called “open” it’s actually a very private party – you need to have a developer state-of-mind and technical capabilities to participate. This pretty much closes the door on many other disciplines that are essential to making good software.

For some time I’ve been wanting to partake and contribute to open-source products. I have some experience in product design and user experience which I believe are greatly missing from open-source. So far, all of my attempts to help have failed. Actually they haven’t actually failed – I never even got through the door. Actually, it feels like there isn’t even a door for me to knock on.

WordPress

WordPress is a wonderful tool. I’d like to see it evolve into my one and only home on-line. I’d like everyone to be able to get a WordPress website as an alternative to Facebook (and I think BuddyPress is the wrong way to do it). I think that one of the greatest obstacles to moving in this direction is the complexity of the administration interface (which is one of the best in the open-source world) – which is way more then what many non-technical people can handle. WordPress has actually been able to bring graphic designers into an open-source development process – but I don’t think that nice icons or a color palette are enough to make WordPress more accessible.

In this video (3:38) Matt speaks about what he feels is the greatest misconception about WordPress – and he points out that people think it’s only for professional bloggers – when actually much work has been done to make it accessible to everyone. If a lot of people are thinking it, maybe it’s not a “misconception”?

I don’t know what the solution is – but I have some ideas. I’d like to be able to present those ideas and discuss them with others. I’d like the WordPress developer community to be open to product, graphic and user experience designers. But even that is something I don’t know how to do – it’s a great challenge.

I care, I want to contribute, I want to participate, I want there to be a dialogue. I’d like to have an opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas. I don’t know of a place for me to do this, and all my attempts to reach-out so far have met thin air.

Mozilla Raindrop

This recent initiative from Mozilla Labs is exciting. I have been wishing for something like it for a long time and it’s even a part of my vision for WordPress. After reading what information was available about it – my mind begin churning and I began looking for a place a discussion can take place. The Raindrop Community page offers several options:

  • Design is a collection of screen-shot images on Flickr – which I really can’t see as a place to converse and innovate.
  • On Get Satisfaction I asked where I should post my thoughts
  • I was referred to the Ideas section (all the rest are technical/developer oriented spaces) – where the most popular suggestion is about a missing icon.

So again I was left scratching my head. I continued to collect my thoughts and reflections but I don’t know where to share them with the community – which has left with me a feeling that maybe the community doesn’t even want to hear about it.

It’s a frustrating experience –  I haven’t given up yet. I’ve been thinking about this post for some time – a post I read today at Weblog Tools Collection finally prompted me to write it.

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