Openness (was RE: Concern for usability and ergonomics)

John Seghers jseghers at
Tue Jun 12 18:12:04 CEST 2007

> Michele Manzato wrote:
> Don't get me wrong, I can guess (some of) the reasons behind the plain
> words. But then I wonder whether there is really any transparency in the
> development of Neo/OpenMoko?

One of the things I've seen while lurking on the list is the propensity for
people to want Neo to be *exactly* what they want for their particular niche
market/use. Whether or not it has a camera. Whether the accelerometers in
GTA02 are accurate enough for inertial nav. Etc... 

When you design hardware by (large) committee, you don't get good results.
Case in point is the Space Shuttle. Its design is a very non-optimal
compromise between NASA's requirements for a manned medium-lift reusable
shuttle and the US Department of Defense's requirements. NASA would probably
have used a lifting body design had the DOD not required the ability to
divert a planned Edwards landing to White Sands or one of the other
secondary landing spots *after* reentry. And that's only one of the many,
many compromises that made the shuttle more expensive and less capable than
it could have been even with 1970's technology.

Openness and transparency does not equate to everyone having a say in what
the final feature set of the hardware is. It does not mean everyone on this
list gets a vote.

Nor does it mean that we get minutes of every meeting about new designs or
even frequent status reports.

What it does mean, to me, is that when they decide the feature set for the
-03, -04, etc. handsets, that we know once they have crunched the features
and cost and form factor to a point where they think they have something to
plan for.

It means this project where we have access to the entire phone stack, and
are able to modify the software to tailor the phone to our niche markets.

It means not having to get permission from the manufacturer to build an app
for the phone (Hello Apple!). It means having a direct line of communication
to the people actually building the thing for technical answers.

I've been writing games on cell phones for four years. I'm now creating a
lower level of software to be integrated at the OEM layer. I've seen just
how hard (or impossible) it is to get this kind of support from the rest of
the industry.

This project is a unique collaboration between a manufacturer and open
source. Let them do what they need to do to make the manufacturing decisions
for their company. And thank them for the access they are giving within an
industry that is extremely closed.

By all means give them feedback, tell them your desires, etc.  But please
don't complain at them when they let you know that the GTA02 isn't the end
of the line. That they're working on follow-up models. That they didn't put
your must-have feature in the next rev.

- John

More information about the community mailing list