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Re: Re: So, Netscape is dead?

by chaoticset (Chaplain)
on Jul 19, 2003 at 07:35 UTC ( #275839=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: So, Netscape is dead?
in thread So, Netscape is dead?

I know it is (badly) contrived, but the point is clear. It would be worth this companies dollars, which wouldn't harm the perl R&D process either, to pay a reasonable sum to ensure that this feature remained inplace against the wishes of those who wish it to be removed.
Well, yes -- but so what? I think there's a good chance that Larry and many others in the core aren't necessarily concerned with what's worthwhile to a specific company. It sounds horrific, pardon me saying so if you would, to have various companies bidding on new features, especially based on the bonehead decisions companies make sometimes.

I mean, a stupid feature is added based on "contributor needs" here, and another feature is dropped for the same reason there, and eventually we've got the movie industry of the 40s-60s. (The possibly apocryphal anecdote concerning a movie set before electric razors and backed by a razor company comes to mind. (Roughly, that the film was required by the company to include an electric razor if someone were filmed shaving.)) "Producers" driving development into the ground because they cannot make smart decisions. (If they could make smart decisions, they wouldn't be producers; producers by definition are prized for their money and nothing else. If they had talent, they'd be in the show...working for a producer. :\ )

While it would be nice if some company felt all warm and fuzzy about Perl development in the short run, I like to think that Larry looks at Perl as another child of his. He wouldn't get a Nike logo tattooed on his human child's forehead, and he wouldn't make Perl into something it "shouldn't" be, in his terms.

Not saying it couldn't be done. I'm saying it wouldn't, and that the positive effects are not as significant as they might seem.

You are what you think.

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Re: Re: Re: So, Netscape is dead?
by tilly (Archbishop) on Jul 19, 2003 at 17:44 UTC
    Agreed, absolutely. You don't get a good design from just adding in a list of features that people care about until you reach something sufficiently complex. You get it in good part from having someone with technical knowledge standing there and telling people, Sorry, that feature would wreck the logical coherency that we are aiming for. It doesn't go in.

    An example that comes to mind of this process in action is the following "discussion" on a feature-request in Linux. (That one picked because in one place it manages to an undue fraction of phases/issues that come up all of the time in real life. It also sticks out in my mind because I learned something useful about the philosophy of Unix from it.)

Re: Re: Re: So, Netscape is dead?
by BrowserUk (Pope) on Jul 19, 2003 at 18:55 UTC

    I'd only point out that in the example I gave, the influence was not for the inclusion of a new feature, but the prevention of removal existing one. I also explicitly precluded the idea that contribution would buy influence on design when I said "(Note: Development NOT design!)". I've worked with, and decried, enough systems that were 'designed by committee' in the past not to want to see those experiences replicated.

    In your movies analogy, the benefit derived by the sponsers is in direct-to-customer promotion of the sponsers product, in this case the razors. This is analogous to the current trend toward advertising supported "free demos" and lite versions. These, along with advertising supported websites are, in my opinion, a flawed mechanism for financial support of an endevour, as personally I find that I am turned off of products when they are rammed down my throat in this way. It was almost 6 years before I watched the original Jaws movie because of the (at that time, unprecedented) hype that surrounded it. When I eventually saw it, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the effect of the advertising blitz that came with it's release on me, meant that makers lost out on the premium rate of income they would have derived from my paying to see it on the big screen because I was turned off from doing so by their advertising techniques. The same holds true for the in-your-face advertising techniques being applied to software and the web currently. I would never purchase anything from the X.10 family of products because of my philosophical objection to their advertising campaign from a couple of years ago. For this to be an accurate analogy to that I was describing, perl would have to pop-up an advert on my screen for the sponsers product every time I ran a perl script. I am (obviously?) not suggesting anything like this.

    However, there is some precedent for the kind of 'contribution for consideration' mechanism I was describing. Many large companies pay for a seat upon special Interest Group commitees. The money benefits the language or standard in question and the company benefits by having some influence in the future directions those languages or standards take. The presence of several competitive company representatives with equal status on those committees prevents any one taking undue or disproportionate influnce.

    I have no axe to grind on this, nor personal benefit to gain. I'm just expressing the opinion that until world evolves to the point where we can all get a guarenteed supply of food, energy to keep us warm, education for our kids, and medicine is free, so those involved can afford to contribute their efforts on projects like perl on the basis of altruism, those efforts need to be funded. That means a source of revenue. In the absence of a product that is sold or leased, the next best way I know of is through sponsership by interested parties.

    Perhaps I'm too optimistic in thinking that there are people that would be prepared to contribute, to have a little influnce, with requiring control?

    Examine what is said, not who speaks.
    "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
    "When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -Richard Buckminster Fuller

      Perhaps I'm too optimistic in thinking that there are people that would be prepared to contribute, to have a little influnce, with requiring control?
      Perhaps I'm too pessimistic, thinking that there are power hungry insane morons who do not give one whit about what the designer thinks or what the community thinks and only care if they can make someone do their work for them...and these people do not believe in concepts like 'a little influence'. A little influence is being on the development team. If these people spend money, they damn well expect to own something, and if they spent it on a Perl feature, they expect to see it. And if they didn't, their money would be gone.

      (Now, I'd like to qualify something here. I'm not a person who often invokes the concept of a 'community' because normally I've found that when people say 'community' they mean 'easily led people with no understanding of the issues'. This is not the case here. I am perhaps idealistic, but I view the Perl community as what the word is meant to be -- a group of people working not always in the same way, but essentially towards a common goal. The reasons for the Perl community include, IMHO, that the goal is rather loose, the development is driven by a small, focused team of designers, and anybody who wants to try to help in any serious way probably understands what they're doing. There is almost no real 'bottom line', and therefore it's not driven by the economy, and can be stable to some extent. It's driven by the developers, for the sake of development.)

      Realistically, and perhaps simplistically, I've done nice things for people. People I do nice things for have a tendency to fall into one of two categories: Either they will continue to ask for it as if it's expected, or they consider it a great one-time favor, and perhaps try to repay me for it. A company driven by the bottom line (and they're not all that way -- some are driven by small groups of people with a greater scheme) tends to fall into the first category -- they'll ask for something, and then something else, and then something else -- and eventually it's the Verizon Perl development cycle, complete with .sig ads and whatnot. The other type of company has a tendency to fall into the second category, where they understand that the design team/nice person aren't going to do that every time, it just fit in with their ongoing plans or didn't require major diversion.

      As for products sold or leased...Perl wasn't created with it in mind, and while money may speed it up, I don't think it'll ever be the hurdle that prevents it from being worked on. Now, I'm not unique -- I am dealing with roughly the same job market, roughly the same lack of openings and lack of sanity on the part of personnel, etc., and I do need to eat and have shelter. I work a job that I honestly think a skilled simulation could handle better than I could, but it provides money until I find real work.

      The real product to be sold is thinking skill -- there is truly no other that cannot be replaced by automation one day -- and right now it's not as valued as it probably should be. Unfortunate, but economies are not stable by nature.

      The problem with the "interest groups" situation is that the designers no longer know what the interest group is "suggesting" versus demanding quietly without significant communication. The interest group then ends up playing politics, and the designer does too -- in order to not offend the rest of the interest group, they have to play quietly or very very nicely with the main contributor(s), and for the main contributors to stay on top and not get rousted by a voting bloc, they have to play quietly or very very nicely. Roughly analogous to this is the current situation with the U.S. Congress, and look how that's been working out. ("Please, can you guys just consider our suggestions concerning this legal system that's meant to do more important things than just serve us? We'll give you some money, but, it's just consideration money, yeah, that's it...") Now, we have the term 'mouthpiece' for someone who's a sponsored toady. If Perl development plays the political money game, the developers will either have to become mouthpieces for various contributors (because it's generally easier to convince other people of things than it is to find or do work) or else find themselves shoved out by people who are well-paid, persuasive speakers and relatively useless human beings in all other regards. (Social whores is the term I like for those people. :) ) In an attempt to prevent toadying (but not the money, the preciousss), redundancy would evolve into the system to attempt to prevent social whoring, but development would grind to a snail's pace, thoughtfulness would be nonexistent, and you'd have the legal system all over again.

      I don't want to see Damian become Ted Kennedy. I sure as hell don't want to see Damian shouted down by someone just as useless as Ted Kennedy who happens to be funded by, say, Microsoft. And I may be very cynical, but I don't see that game turning out any other way.

      Currently, you pays your bucks, you takes your chances. Perl is a big ball of wax, and you either donate to it or you don't, and Perl likes being funded but doesn't live for it. It sounds pretty good, frankly.

      You are what you think.

        Wow.++ I might update with a more intellectual comment once I've digested that, but I wanted to acknowledge it.

        Examine what is said, not who speaks.
        "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
        "When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -Richard Buckminster Fuller

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