Openness (was RE: Concern for usability and ergonomics)

Joe Friedrichsen pengi.films at
Wed Jun 13 06:11:30 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?

I can sympathize with you to an extent. I fully support the concept
and goal of OpenMoko. If I didn't, then I would have to say that I
like one distro but not another. On the other hand, I also feel a bit
frustrated at the more-than-intermittent silence and side-stepping
updates that do get to the list.

However, I don't think the problem lies with FIC, or at least entirely
with FIC. My frustration comes from my expectations not being met, so
then I start to look at my expectations. Are they reasonable? Are they

The folks at FIC haven't outlined how much information they will
share, nor how often they will share it. And so when hearing 'OpenMoko
is a libre OS for a phone, and the Neo will be the first to run it,' I
projected my ideas of a FLOSS project onto FIC. That is not
necessarily the case, though.

Given that launching new hardware is incredibly difficult, and
predicting its development time line is even more difficult, I was
surprised to read concrete dates at all. I'm more familiar with
after-the-fact milestone-based updates:

* "We've just finished the latest revision and we're waiting for a few
new prototype units."
* "The new units are here, but they're buggy. We're chasing the bugs down."
* "The bugs have been dealt with, we're ordering some new units."

and so on. Perhaps this is a learning experience for everyone. FIC can
ease some of the tension in the community by outlining what they
intend to be 'open' in their processes. What they will share, how
much, and how often. They can also relieve some of the pressure on
themselves by not forecasting specifics.

And the community can give FIC the benefit of the doubt. The software
is real, it is open, and it is available now. Real working units exist
and are being used. The community can also allow FIC to change its
behavior. I suspect that FIC was excited at the beginning and shared
information prematurely and that we took that as par for the course.
So now that they have learned a bit about launching a new product and
interacting with 'the bazaar', I imagine that that FIC will adapt as
they see fit. Please allow them to grow :-)

It wouldn't help them in any way to alienate the developer community,
but I don't think they are actively trying to do that. Their recent
inaction could speak to growing complacency on their part, but I don't
suspect that either. I only see misleading expectations, partly from
FIC's opening strategy and the assumed definition of 'open' in regards
to product development.

See you on the pre-order list,

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