Openmoko on Design

Al Johnson openmoko at
Tue Jul 29 13:19:10 CEST 2008

On Tuesday 29 July 2008, Marek Lindner wrote:
> Hi,
> > At the same time we heard comments from a key developer who indicated
> > that the decision was made above him by unnamed individuals with whom
> > the community has no obvious means of communication, and who apparently
> > don't even listen to the reasonable technical arguments of key
> > developers.
> Openmoko always avoided all kind of formal structures. Thus we don't have
> such a thing as "key" or "core" developer - "a" developer would be better.

Whether the term is 'key developer' or just 'a developer' is irrelevant. The 
issue is the total lack of communication over removal of a function many in 
the community, not to mention said developer, have good technical reasons to 
see as absolutely vital.

> > This also seemed to reveal something about the internals of
> > Openmoko that weren't expected: development decisions are not entirely
> > made by the developers, but instead they answer to some people who the
> > community cannot readily identify and who the community doesn't know how
> > to interact with or if they even can interact with these decision-makers.
> May be it revealed that Openmoko itself is diverse as well. That some
> developers have different opinions than others.

Diversity of opinion is fine and expected, but we needed to hear what the 
other opinions were!

> > It was this incident with the keyboard that made several people believe
> > option (2) was not available, and even after Sean's message, I still
> > don't believe that we know the answer.  So, I'll ask again: does
> > Openmoko intend to allow direct code contributions by community members
> > to core components of the ASU/FSO frameworks?  If so, will such
> > community members also have a voice in underlying design decisions that
> > guide that/those framework(s)?
> if course you can - that is the whole point of Openmoko. The best way is to
> implement a solution, offer a package to install and let the people play
> with it. If your idea is convincing we will include it.

I thought that was the whole point too, but your answer seems only to answer 
one of the two questions. You seem to be saying 'Of course you can submit 
code, and if we like it we'll use it' but saying nothing about whether the 
community has a voice in the decision. It would be helpful to know before 
embarking on implementation whether the idea conflicts with one or more of 
the unstated ideals by which inclusion may be judged.

> > Openmoko has to trust those members of the community, who prove
> > themselves through actual contributions, to be worthy to give input on
> > larger design issues as well.
> You got the point !

I think so, but I think the rest of the paragraph, particularly the preceding 
sentence, was at least as important. Since you snipped it I'm not sure you 
feel the same way.

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