← Back to team overview

unity-design team mailing list archive

Re: Saying no to options, Was: No more dodge windows in Unity?


On 09/02/12 00:28, Martin Owens wrote:
But; the total number of options shouldn't fall to zero on principle.
That's an arbitrary rule which is a stand in for some more sensible
considerations. It'd be better to think of those considerations first
and not be burdened by a rule that could very quickly end up becoming
officious leading eventually to arbitrary callousness in many hundreds
of years. Ubuntu's Vogon rule.

It's not a rule. And I didn't say the number of options would tend to zero.

I said that we need to demonstrate balance in our thinking. Arguing furiously for one option without an ability to say why it is more important than another option suggests a lack of balance. It also plays into our natural detail-oriented myopia. It's very easy to become so obsessed with a particular feature or option that we forget what makes the whole thing feel fun in the first place.

Remember how we started. We introduced, into a world of 11-CD Linux installs, a version of Linux that came on ONE CD.

That was called 'absolutely ridiculous' by lots of seasoned industry veterans. Most of whom now use Ubuntu.

Choices are very hard. So we have a good, balanced framework for how we make them, but we don't shy from making them. If you've ever been in a UDS session where we are discussing Firefox vs Chromium, or Thunderbird vs Evolution, you know how hard those conversations are. But you also learn to spot the people who are arguing for their babies, versus the people who are able to see things through the eye of our users.

Remember, you are much more potent in this world than most of them. And the biggest gift you can give them is the benefit of your insight in the form of a balanced decision that they then do not have to make.

When we set out to represent free software on one fantastic CD, we had a small group of people interested in that mission. So we didn't fight much about it, because the people who felt differently were all somewhere else.

Today, it's more difficult, because there are lots of people who use Ubuntu every day who *do not share its values*. This is important. It's great that they choose Ubuntu, and it's fine if they choose something else tomorrow instead. It's a fallacy that the very smart people all want every possible option, and that Ubuntu will lose all the smart people if it doesn't offer every possible option. There are lots of very smart people who choose MacOS, for example. And there are many, many smart people who want Ubuntu to be on rails so they can be more productive than their counterparts on MacOS, with all the power of Linux at their fingertips, just not in the way.

Those are the smart people I want to work with. And especially, I want to work with smart, *generous* people, who understand how privileged they are and want to do something for someone else, not just for themselves.

So when you next see someone show up on a list and demand that they get what they want or they are going to use <*****> Linux, and how much we'll miss them because they are really very clever, just recognize that they are not someone who shares the value of the project, we will be better off without their anti-social demands, and look around and appreciate what a wonderful opportunity it is to work with the (fewer) smart people who are also practical, sensitive, and generous. We only need a small number of them to change the world, and we're doing just fine as it is in that regard.


Follow ups