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I'm pretty conflicted on which way to vote this. I think your analysis of the fundamental cause is accurate -- developers are becoming big-headed leading on the examples of 37 Signals and Apple, and it has become trendy for a developer to enforce his opinion on the "right" usage path by disallowing any others, even if it takes extra work to do so.

But I dislike your assertion that it was all OK for Apple and 37 Signals because they're geniuses or otherwise "special" people (I particularly disagree that Jobs was a "once-in-a-century genius"). You are correct that reading the post, there are many things that strike brilliantly of Jobsism: extreme irritation that someone is making the beautiful thing you built for them less beautiful, and that this must be stopped by any means necessary, even if you have to weld the whole thing shut. And this very approach makes both 37 Signals and Apple products undesirable for many.

It is really bad to confuse the issue by telling people "only geniuses dare enter here". That is not the problem. Apple's closed model has come back to bite them time and time again, and Microsoft's marriage to the enterprise has allowed OS X to rise without a serious user-facing competitor on the desktop. Just as happened in the early days of the desktop, Apple's arrogance with iOS is cannibalizing their market share, and Android is emerging as the predominant mobile platform. The closed platform is simply not a real solution, even for the "geniuses" at Apple; they've simply been unchallenged. When an open challenger approaches, Apple's walled garden gets burnt down.

It really comes down to the market you're targeting. OS X and Rails are for casual users, people whose needs are very predictable and who simply need to be able to access the thing they want as quickly as possible. This means limiting options, because the likelihood a user will need that option is minimal and because in almost all cases for this audience, it's just more confusing/useless mumbo jumbo that a user must parse when they're looking for their intended setting. This works OK if you expect to stay confined to a relatively stringent niche or two (even if those niches by far comprise the majority of users), like "people who want to use Facebook" or "people who want to feel self-important while they use Photoshop". It's not really the correct approach to solving the problem, but it works for them and limits their irritation.

People who use Linux, even if they start as newbies, expect power and flexibility; they expect to be able to customize and hack and build and exploit, and share those hacks and builds and exploits with others. This is really the entire spirit behind open-source software in the first place. The prevailing desktop environments, however, are envious of OS X and want their software to see the glory; they want to be cool, they want to be desired, they want the fame. They want it so bad that they're willing to put all that work into it for free. As such, they feel a necessity to actively pursue the niche of casual users at the expense of the hackers who've used their systems for the last 20 years.

The right way to fix this problem, the way that Linux vendors and developers should be focusing on, is NOT to follow the 37 Signals and Apple paradigm of "ideal" usage path protectionism, but to figure out a paradigm that merges both sectors; the hackers and the casuals, linked together in one great whole, allowing full fluidity between both segments.

Hackers could relax and forget all that complex stuff it takes to boot up a custom environment once in a while and be mostly OK with the casual interface, and casual users could scale up and make whatever customizations are necessary, eventually becoming full-fledged hackers. The person who designs a system that allows this will be the true genius, the great unifier of the worlds of user interaction. Linux and its systems would be a very useful base system for this, so it's especially sad to see our major projects insistence on fame and glory override the real issues.

It's really disheartening to see so many people blindly following Jobs et al down the rabbit hole of arrogance so potent it entirely pervades their product instead of working on the true design issue of unifying the user bases, allowing maximum customization without getting in the users' way. gnome-shell and similar projects are great experiments in UX, but they should be built atop platforms that allow all kinds of other great UX experiments, not platforms that closed-mindedly demand compliance with the "One True Way" of user interaction. Let the One True Way emerge organically; if yours is the best, there's nothing to be afraid of, and making your platform the most flexible and open will easily allow you to incorporate any iterations or improvements that may be contributed by others.

I guess, however, the root of the problem is that people refuse to accept any iteration or improvement is possible. They have a fundamental disrespect and arrogance that leaves no room for collaboration. This is the antithesis of open-source software, and perhaps the author is right that Gnome's developers may fit in better at Microsoft.




I agree with a lot of your reasoning, except you spoil you argument with the following (incorrect) assertion:

"It really comes down to the market you're targeting. OS X and Rails are for casual users"


Yeah. That's right downvoter, OS X and Rails are for casual users. Sir, you are quite wrong.




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