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From Ben Hyde <bh...@pobox.com>
Subject Re: the wheel of httpd-dev life is surely slowing down, solutions please
Date Thu, 13 Nov 2003 14:23:44 GMT
I've quite a few ideas and opinions about why things might be quiet 
these days.  I'd recommend against taking any of these ideas too 
seriously.  Here is an idea:  we have gotten out in front of the users.

Products have features and overtime they get more and more features.  
Users have some ability to absorb features and overtime their ability 
to do so rises.  For young products the users are ahead of the product 
("What do you mean it doesn't to CGI scripting!?").  For older products 
the mismatch gets smaller and smaller ("I need massive virtual 
hosting!").

My joke about this is that the process is a perfect behaviorist 
training loop.  Young products get strong feedback which trains their 
sponsors to listen to customer demand and add features.  Overtime that 
feedback peter's out, which trains them to listen more and more 
carefully.  Finally they get to the point where they listen to the wind 
and they hear feature demands in it's ghostly moans.  That's call 
market research. :-)

Commercial products tend to overshoot the users.  Consider Microsoft's 
office products!

Open source is less given to overshoot.  If features only go in because 
a user volunteered to do the work that acts; to some degree to temper 
the chance of overshoot.

Open source can still overshoot.  Exceptional users may add features 
that are rarely needed.  Firms, lead by market research or other 
in-house demands, may volunteer.

So, one theory is that we have overshot the user's ability to absorb 
new features.  Some amount of overshoot is to be expected on any major 
release.

Solutions?  Well if you buy this model - and like I said it's only one 
- then the trick is to aid users in climbing the learning curve.  
Figuring out where the user demand is and then helping to bridge the 
gap using the new features.  Helping all the complementary products 
absorb the new stuff.

This may seem like an argument that we have filled out our ecological 
niche; but it's slightly different than that.  The niche isn't fixed, 
it is a free variable as well.

  - ben


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