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Re: [olpc-software] AbiWord, HIG

Ok this is ranging off of olpc..

On 3/31/06, Dean Johnson <dtj uberh4x0r org> wrote:
> Alan Kay wrote:
> >
> > The idea and importance of "knowing your field" is pretty simple stuff,
> > well known in every developed profession and art -- and this is
> > certainly the case in the physics of the HW. Why should it be so
> > controversial and avoided in the software side of computing, to the
> > detriment of all?
> Its different because humanoids are quite quirky beasts and there are very few
> things that are "right" in the UI world. Part of the issue is that users
> typically attempt to truly minimize their knowledge to satisfy their needs as a
> tool user. Consequently their knowledge and usage grows rather organically and
> rather than best practices, they hammer at the square peg and eventually get it
> into the round hole. Eventually their quirks get codified and you get things
> like vi-mode in emacs.

There are 2 other points that I found in trying to know the field:

Up until the WWW/Altavista search engines it was pretty darn hard to
know what had been done before. By the time I got into computing
around 1984, the universities treated their teaching methods like
religous doctrine or at least like something to make a lot of money
off of. You heard more about what was thought to be right thinking
from professors and less about what else was out there. In trying to
find out what was out there, one was limited to what was on USEnet,
BBS's or what the local library had on microfiche and you had time to
try and make your way through. [I fell asleep more often than not
trying to make it through the local universities microfiche of ACM
stuff.. and that was because it was pretty much gibberish for a 14
year old. ] And even now with google you end up with 90% crud and 10%
useful content and very little guidance of which is which. So knowing
your field is not easy without some sort of Hacker's Encyclopedia.

The second point is that knowing your field in physics and chemistry
is not as easy as it seems. It usually takes 40 years before something
becomes mainstream enough to become textbook fare and be something
that is acceptable. And this is in fields where data is freely shared
without patent/profit problems. In most of the fields covered by
pharmaceutical there is usually a 5-10 year gap in knowledge even
becoming publishable because of waiting for patents and such to come
out. And if 3 groups are all researching the same thing.. then 2 of
the 3 will find their funding die if a clear patent has come out
unless the other company wants to dive-bomb the product or find
associated patents.

>From  a talk by one of the people who invented the nicotine patch..
his view is that most of the stable science wont be available for 
30-50 years because of stuff having to get past all the patent messes
so that it really gets investigated  versus profitized.

Stephen J Smoogen.
CSIRT/Linux System Administrator

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