Compile your own device drivers. Most people have real work to get on with.

30 Jan

People talk about Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, and I don’t disagree that the man has a quasi-hypnotic ability to convince. There’s another reality distortion field at work, though, and everyone that makes a living from the tech industry is within its tractor-beam. That RDF tells us that computers are awesome, they work great and only those too stupid to live can’t work them.

The tech industry will be in paroxysms of future shock for some time to come. Many will cling to their January-26th notions of what it takes to get “real work” done; cling to the idea that the computer-based part of it is the “real work”.

It’s not. The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS.

The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table’s order, designing the house and organising the party.

I love this article. It’s the reason I’m impressed with a device I won’t get for myself. It’s about the form factor, the model of simplicity, where it takes us, and where the whole industry is going. After some decades, the user is starting to matter.

Actually, we’ve been talking about this at work, regarding our strategy for hosting TiddlyWiki, and I believe the hierarchy is a general pattern:

In order of optimisation, you should be focusing on:

(1) End-users – they’re the people who pay the bills and the whole reason anything gets written (yes, yes, you could be coding it to scratch your own itch, but then you’re wearing two hats under this model)
(2) Admins
(3) Plugin/App developers
(4) Core developers

We value the experience of all four, but we value the higher ones more (. We would ideally aim to have our cake and eat it (http://softwareas.com/designing-like-a-pollyanna-have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too), i.e. find solutions that optimise all four. (For example, a congruent data model that is shared by all parties.) But where trade-offs are required, we will certainly be biased towards the higher categories, all things being equal.

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One Response to “Compile your own device drivers. Most people have real work to get on with.”

  1. Jermolene January 31, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    I’d be inclined to reverse (2) and (3), because I see the plugin/app developers as being the focus of innovation

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