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.”
I have recently returned from the Agile 2008 conference in Toronto. I had a great time, and met some great developers, as well as some people I have only known vicariously through email lists. It was nice to actually see some of these individuals face to face.
I am making my presentation available here as a download.
This link is a PDF file, but if you want the original, please just let me know and I will get a copy to you.
Scott Berkun has put together a small article on how to innovate right now.
He mentions that every innovator’s tool kit includes these three things:
Key points include:
- Borrowing ideas from the Past – look at ways others have solved the solution before you then try variations on them
- Ask a lot of questions
- Why is it done this way?
- Who started it and why?
- What alternatives did they consider?
- What are my or my friend’s biggest complaints about how it is now?
- How has this been done in other locals, cultures, or throughout history?
- What assumptions were made or constraints did they have?
- How can I apply any of the above to what I do?
- Try things yourself
- There is no substitute for first hand experience when trying things
- Don’t be afraid of risk – the bigger the innovation, the greater the risk
- Try, Learn, and Try again
- This could be called iterating your design
- Remember what Edison is attributed for saying “I haven’t failed, I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work”