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Mountain View CEO at OpenCurriculum Joined about 4 years ago
Ryan, I really really enjoyed your talk! I think you and Koos have some really similar rich experiences. I am going to follow-up with you privately when I have more concrete thinking around this topic, or perhaps ask for your help to come to this understanding.
I felt rather discouraged after joining several bug trackers and forums though
Bingo! I think everyone feels this pain. And we can go on and on about need for community input in this process, but this just kills people's interest - even developer interest very often. But for design, I agree with everyone here who don't think these processes work
There are no FOSS design applications.
Agree with all the points you are making around this, but echoing Ryan, there's GIMP and Inkscape, apart from others. These are actually very capable tools. Usable: may not.
For some applications, I would have liked to spend some time on redesigning features, but it was totally unclear who was running the project...
I think this is the basically the heart of the problem. I am filled with optimism on the supply side (designers) but this demand side is still bothering me. We need a little more insight here. If, hypothetically, we do gather a bunch of talented designers who want to contribute, I am not sure they will have autonomy and support from the core maintainers of these projects.
Even in well-organized product teams designers sometimes struggle to convince others their designs should be implemented
YES! But just wish to add that the best design teams have become a whole lot more mature about this overtime and there are some principles around this stuff that didn't exist before.
Community-driven FOSS projects typically have a development process that is optimized for engineers..
Again, bullseye. I think a design pathway would need to bypass these existing processes.
Sorry I am forcing words in your mouth because this seems like a very interesting perspective and I am suddenly blown by this and it is changing everything I thought about how to solve this problem before reading your bit.
...An existing community may not like the sudden changes in the design...
Very accurate observations.
FOSS is badly designed because it's badly designed
I agree with a lot of your thinking, Koos, but you know, I fear that we are making assumptions on the desires of the open source software maintainers. May be they do value design too, but don't have the skills or have too much inertia. We know from experience that the great commercially-backed FOSS efforts have all placed critical emphasis on design. This almost always means that there is design ambition on the part of the their leaders. Have any ideas on how to test this hypothesis? I was just going to be really raw and just message them.
Alternatively, there may be projects that are not of the scratch-your-own-itch kind that still have passionate engineers...
Fascinating. Aligns with the kind of work Henry shared about.
As you mentioned, there needs to be coordination, which, I think, means it takes the power of decision making (about product vision, feature prioritization, etc.)...
Again, you hit the heart of the problem. I know a lot of open-source product leaders struggle with burnout and frustration. May be we are beginning to question the organization of FOSS contribution, which is a very complex matter in itself, and the focus of people's entire PhDs (I kid you not, I know people like that).
But hey, I walked into this with optimism, and so we gotta believe there is a way..
Thank you, Ryan, I am going to listen to this right now! I want to understand how you think about this.
Ian, thanks for sharing this. Which communities have you tried to look in? I am trying to understand at this point what others are doing, so there is no repetition of effort.
This is absolutely excellent to read about. I was not thinking about both non-technology-industry-serving projects AND open-source design processes, but my eyes are being opened to these gradually.
Thank you very much, Henry, I am still thinking hard about how to add value and not crowd the space for the heck of it. Perhaps we can try to see if Daniel Burka would be open to chiming in with his thoughts.
Fascinating, the idea of cultivating a breed of young talented folks who can eventually contribute in big ways. Love that your involved with that initiative.
Yes, just trying to think (but not overthink) through the right approach here. Want to make sure what I do can generate decent momentum in some way
Great food for thought, Sacha!
Thanks for your thoughts, Xavier! I agree with that (Gruber) statement from experience too, but can't really prove for it to be entirely universally true. In any case, I think that is the reason for an intermediary org / group of people - who help bridge the understand of the role, process, and value of design to open-source community leaders. Which I think a group like the one @Bradley points to might be useful.
Thank you for your thoughts, Sacha!
I respect your views but finding it a little hard to understand that reasoning. There are a whole lot of things in the world that don't appeal to designers, but that doesn't mean designers can't have a hugely vital role in improving them. The application of any skill should never be limited to the interest of the craftsmen in the domain where the skill is applied.
Yes, a critical element of open-source is giving back. But we all know 95%+ of users of most open source software users don't give back - and that makes it a tool / utility / service for general consumption, where people are not bound by that contract. Anything that impacts so many people's day-to-day lives deserves some attention by people who have the ability to make it better.
Bradley, thank you so much! I didn't know about this community. Thanks for pointing me to it.
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