An economics podcast is an unusual place for a discussion of UI design, but this conversation with Eric Raymond (The Cathedral & the Bazaar) includes the usability of open source software.
Open source development works when,
- Capital goods required to do the work are cheap.
- The limiting factor on the work is human creativity and attention.
- The work is intrinsically rewarding.
- There is an objective metric for success that everybody in the hive mind can agree on without too much effort. Without that condition you get thrashing.
- Zero-cost communications.
Any designer knows Item 4 is a problem: different types of users with a wide range of experience, conflicting goals, etc. The open source community is starting to recognize that UI design requires a single vision. They are appointing “UI dictators” within each project who “get their way.” “It’s better to have a flawed individual vision than try to do it by committee.”
EconTalk: Eric Raymond on Hacking, Open Source, and the Cathedral and the Bazaar
(program notes and audio)