Looking within...

17 Feb 2004 - 8:44pm
10 years ago
2 replies
463 reads
Christian Simon
2003

...for a finer point on HCI disciplines. Like many internet practitioners,
I've read the current discussions regarding social software and to a lesser
extent blogging phenomenon. Watching these new ideas develop into
businesses, I'm asking myself what drives their development? I know of
examples in business and marketing process that drive development. What are
they in HCI?

Not more then a few weeks and the windows source code leak is critiqued and
blog fodder. Like a collective on-line human factors research study. How
much of this chatter is an advantage to Microsoft is questionable; however,
the volume of independent reports could generate valid criticisms. While the
replies may be biased to the readership as a whole they are no less
independent. Based on the actual content of the leak, the responses could be
very focused. The result, while less verifiable in scientific terms, is more
compelling if only in marketing buzz power.

The volume of comments could offer valuable information and practically
light a fire under Microserfs and competitors to generate their own data to
refute or support (or explain) the comments. This is not the way to run a
business. In the case of the Windows source the files they have gone around
the world and back. I would make a case that blogging critique can be
considered a study of development-even a force? (just not one I can get
hired for).

Are there lessons learned in HCI that respond to this exchange? Or is this a
case of a new form of yellow journalism influencing people's opinions and
decisions? A mistake, some posts and nothing more? I'm curious when I read
stuff like this. Not for the purpose of finding a job in this area, but for
following the business effect that drive the industry-like an article in
wired I never read.

Xtian

Comments

18 Feb 2004 - 8:13am
CD Evans
2004

Xtian,

There is an excellent article on Open Source by Adrian Mackenzie in
Science as Culture Vol 10:

http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?wasp=53fkunvrrl756by3rpfm&referrer=parent&backto=issue,5,9;journal,9,16;linkingpublicationresults,id:104666,1
(journal)

It's entitled, "Open Source Software: When is a Tool? What is a Commodity?"

This would at least answer a few of your questions, but a major
thread here is that commodification is not necessarily linked to
property rights. The article also looks at the search for spiritual
values in computer programming, and references materials such as 'The
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' by Max Weber and 'The
Soul of a New Machine' by Kidder, 1982.

You have raised an issue that particularly reflects the idea of
spirit in technology, as seen in the amount of motivation and thought
put into the Windows Source blogging. Not that we should look to the
'amount' of material to determine worth, but the motivation involved
in this type of distribution is edging toward a model for economy.

Like you say though, the economic model has yet to emerge.

Kindly
CD Evans

>...for a finer point on HCI disciplines. Like many internet practitioners,
>I've read the current discussions regarding social software and to a lesser
>extent blogging phenomenon. Watching these new ideas develop into
>businesses, I'm asking myself what drives their development? I know of
>examples in business and marketing process that drive development. What are
>they in HCI?
>
>Not more then a few weeks and the windows source code leak is critiqued and
>blog fodder. Like a collective on-line human factors research study. How
>much of this chatter is an advantage to Microsoft is questionable; however,
>the volume of independent reports could generate valid criticisms. While the
>replies may be biased to the readership as a whole they are no less
>independent. Based on the actual content of the leak, the responses could be
>very focused. The result, while less verifiable in scientific terms, is more
>compelling if only in marketing buzz power.
>
>The volume of comments could offer valuable information and practically
>light a fire under Microserfs and competitors to generate their own data to
>refute or support (or explain) the comments. This is not the way to run a
>business. In the case of the Windows source the files they have gone around
>the world and back. I would make a case that blogging critique can be
>considered a study of development-even a force? (just not one I can get
>hired for).
>
>Are there lessons learned in HCI that respond to this exchange? Or is this a
>case of a new form of yellow journalism influencing people's opinions and
>decisions? A mistake, some posts and nothing more? I'm curious when I read
>stuff like this. Not for the purpose of finding a job in this area, but for
>following the business effect that drive the industry-like an article in
>wired I never read.
>
>Xtian

18 Feb 2004 - 5:09pm
Christian Simon
2003

> CD Evans wrote:
> There is an excellent article on Open Source by Adrian Mackenzie in
> Science as Culture Vol 10:
>
> http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?wasp=53fkunvrr
> l756by3rpfm&referrer=parent&backto=issue,5,9;journal,9,16;linkingpublicationre
> sults,id:104666,1
> (journal)

Open source is a good direction to look to understand the context-I hoped
someone would bring this up. I was also looking for a reference point close
to the research side of HCI. The gap between business and research context,
while exaggerated, could be comparable to the blogging reaction that can
outdo a normal business practice.

Off point, but characteristically relevant: Going over some links and ran
across this article this morning from informationdesign.org.
http://www.usabilitynews.com/news/article1482.asp

Personally, I find this a humorous note on one person's quest for a job that
brings together their masters in HCI and the number of jobs for business
analysts. Basically he discovers that his personal interest may be out
pacing practical application. The proof sufficient for HCI is not convincing
for the business need.

Ciao.
Xtian

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