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User talk:LuBer

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I'd like to talk about "User Contributions" and what they are expected to be, both in English ( Here) and ( in Italian).

My understanding is that I cannot be a User in this (MozillaZine) context if everybody else is a Developer and I'm the only guy in town who aims to behave as a (non technical) User.

I also believe my (prospective) User behaviour can only start if and when I am a member of a self driven User Community, which plans and manages its own Support Services.

So, the possibility for my (old) self to become an active contributor around here needs to be proven by the presence of a few other "birds of a feather" ... which I don't have any reason to believe it's going to happen easily.

What I have been doing to make a Web based User Community happen is a long story which is not worth/possible reporting. To sum it up I am presently experimenting with an unofficial (Italian) University student Wiki environment, with a tentative approach, described by a quick and dirty Weblog post on A Manifesto for Collaborative Tools; my fiddling around with that Weblog is also an experimental action, nicknamed "zigzag".

Cheers, Luigi
....and his naive use of Composer to date:...


Self driven User Support vs Marketing (or other title)

Hi. In the context of Moz, I'm a non technical user, a non-hacker/developer.

Hi. I'm glad to see another non technical user around. You are however more technical than I am. You have left around a couple of things I don't manage to understand the how of: 1) How were the "edit" links added to each BOF ? 2) How was this page edited by an editor I cannot identify ?

Not really more technical; I didn't knowingly do those things! Let's see. What I did was use the Post a comment link rather than edit this page. I wrote BOF #2 as the comment title. It seems wikipedia turned that into a page edit. It turned the comment title into a == title == sequence. And I've just found out that titled sections get an edit thing of their own. Quite neat. And I forgot to add a tilde sequence to identify myself.

I'm the one who added the marketing comment on the 'discuss this page' of the KB home page. Later. raiph 15:22, 14 Apr 2004 (PDT)

Thank you for giving me a clue. Your marketing comment is prompting me to take a Mozilla User posture (need to explain what I mean, asap) .... I rate Marketing and Evangelism as the Vendor' side of user support .... so I'd like to fit in some balancing aspect of User Support .... luber 040416 09:10 Italian time

Hmm. I didn't think Marketing had anything (much) to do with what you were talking about. (I just mentioned it in the context of you knowing who I was.) I thought you were talking about producing the sort of user support (docs and services) that one might have expected Netscape/AOL to produce for consumer users. raiph 16:24, 16 Apr 2004 (PDT)

The difference from what you thought I was talking about might be described by replacing Netscape/AOL (in your comment) with "CERN and its peer Research environments". A further difference is: that type of user support should now be produced by prospective social software user communities, starting from scratch. I would also envisage a relationship between that type of approach (on the User Community side) and Marketing (on the Vendor/Developer side). luber 01:55, 040418

Ahh. So your emphasis isn't so much the notion of a technical community and a non-technical community, but a myriad communities, many of which will be non-technical? If so, yes, absolutely. Both without, and -- in fact, especially -- with, my marketing hat on. Examples of communities I think I'd like to see include Mozilla-for-the-vision-impaired and Mozilla-for-parents (that's mostly with my marketing hat on) and Mozilla-for-greens (that's mostly personal interest). Am I on the right track? Are you looking for something that drops the Mozilla specificity, ie wikis for the-vision-impaired, web-and-parents and greens-and-software? (If it's the latter, then I think you can't expect Mozillazine and this knowledgebase to be involved; you need to find an appropriate wiki host or similar.) raiph 13:10, 18 Apr 2004 (PDT)

I don't understand the title. Support v Marketing? Support and marketing are largely orthogonal. As a Mozilla marketer, I would obviously want to see self-driven Mozilla related communities emerge. And the communities might appreciate some help reaching out to potential new members. But that's about it. So, again, I encourage you to clarify what it is you are talking about on this page (could you answer my questions in the previous post?), but I don't see how marketing has anything much to do with it. In fact I'm not going to mention marketing in this context again until I'm more confident I understand what it is you're talking about! :> raiph 10:38, 19 Apr 2004 (PDT)

Sorry to keep you waiting; I'll be posting my reply asap :) luber 12:42, 040420

Clarifying my assumption, that there might be a relationship between Support and Marketing, it's not easy. I don't know a thing about Marketing, and the likely possibility that what I'm trying to talk about is "out of scope" for this context makes me nervous.

All I can do is to try and clarify my emphasis, which is on "self driven communities", where "self driven" means "not developer/vendor driven", i.e.: a self driven community can handle its own (open source product integration) decision making, including "acceptance testing" when applicable, independently from developer/vendor vested interest and hidden agenda.

The would-be members of such communities should be loosely coupled by a shared and easy to grasp "open source philosophy concept", or by a (to be defined) "shared conceptual framework". The definition of a membership framework might be the research goal envisaged by the following excerpt from this (downloadable pdf paper) Introduction to Open Source Communities, i.e. (see bullet 2 of "Conclusions" on page 19):

... quote from above paper ... There are several well-defined roles within software development communities: software architects, programmers, release managers, testers, etc. What is not yet well understood are the roles that users play in the software development process. This question is even more important in the context of open source communities, where the barriers between developers and users are generally quite low. What seems clear ..... is that users can play a much more significant role than simply reporting bugs or evangelizing the projects. An important research goal is to identify what those roles are, and how they affect the overall software development process and community dynamic. .. unquote ..

Conclusions later -- luber 07:18, 040425

OK. I'm pretty sure I understand where you're coming from.

> would-be members of such communities should be loosely coupled by a shared and easy to grasp "open source philosophy concept", or by a (to be defined) "shared conceptual framework".

That's exactly where Mozilla.org and other open source projects already are. The foundation is the license. The loose coupling is the general notion of open source, and the likes of this wiki, mailing lists, etc., that steadily emerge and evolve as projects mature. Debian is perhaps the prime example.

... quote from above paper ... What seems clear ..... is that users can play a much more significant role than simply reporting bugs or evangelizing the projects. .. unquote ..

(Note: I read the full paper before replying.) Yes. Everyone in the Mozilla community is a user. Mitchell Baker is a user. All the developers are users. Users can do, and are doing, anything they want. Me for example. I want to do some marketing management. So I am.

... quote from above paper ... An important research goal is to identify what those roles are, and how they affect the overall software development process and community dynamic. .. unquote ..

Perhaps. I'm sure some in the Mozilla.org community will listen to what the academics have to say when they've identified some of these roles. I doubt many will view as a high priority their spending time on actively assisting the research!

And finally, back to marketing, independence from a vendor's agenda, and wikis...

From Encyclopedia Britannica's entry for 'Marketing':

"the sum of activities involved in directing the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers."

and:

"Marketing's principal function is to promote and facilitate exchange."

But who sets the agenda? Proprietary software users can easily strongly influence developers of their software (by voting with their money, if other forces don't work). Open source users can't force developers of their software to do anything (though money can play more or less the same role it does with proprietary software). However, in the final analysis, producers set the agenda for proprietary software (although it's typically based on going where the money is), and consumers set the agenda for open source software (although they may, in practice, be best off largely constraining themselves to what techhead volunteers want to do). So, if a community of users wants to truly be in control, "independently from developer/vendor vested interest and hidden agenda", then the situation is simple: if they use proprietary software, they can't achieve what they want, and if they use open source software, they automatically have the foundation to achieve what they want, to the extent it can be achieved. Or consider another way of looking at this: a political analogy. (The following is all my opinion, grossly over-simplified, and not well thought through, but anyway...) Proprietary software licensing (and marketing, sales, etc.) is usually carried out with an underlying philosophy akin to dictatorial government. A Free Software (GPL) ecology is more akin to socialist government. Free Software (BSD), anarchist or libertarian. And Open Source (Mozilla), more like green (whose four pillars are "community based", "environmentally sound", "socially just", and "non-violent"). (Btw, I'm a green/anarchist/libertarian/capitalist... ;>) Anyhow, the bottom line is, ANY open source user community has the independence about which you speak, as a fundamental right. Ultimately, I think the conversation about gaining theoretical independence from a vendor's agenda boils down to a conversation about free software / open source licenses.

The only remaining issue is developing an environment and culture that's properly aligned with the intent of a free software or open source license. As an example of a particular element, open communication, and especially something like a Wiki, can definitely help. As an example of the whole enchilada, Debian is a much more mature example than Mozilla.org.

raiph 10:42, 25 Apr 2004 (PDT)

The issue of developing an environment and culture - as mentioned by your close - breaksdown into a number of other issues, such as (in my preposterous opinion) ...

  • there are two types of users, i.e.: those driven by rationality (software and/or business developers are a good example) and those driven by heart/emotions and habit/instinct (software users and/or consumers who shy away from technicalities are a good example); they don't share a common language/culture; a properly developed user interface should allow for these two types of users to communicate, independently from national language differences ...
  • additional issues which might be raised if the above can be considered, including a mechanism for bringing input, from users of the second kind, into the standardization framework shared by software developers ...

luber 08:38, 27 Apr 2004 (PDT)

(Er, "in my *preposterous* opinion" is an idiom curveball. ie I don't know what you mean by it!)

Surely none of these sorts of personality differences are specific to software? Any culture has to deal with communication gulfs due to personality traits related to rationality, emotionality, left/right brained bias, etc. Agreed?

(Nit-pick: afaik, anyone can issue an RFC, and anyone can comment on an RFC. But most RFCs deal with system space issues, not user space, so it's just not relevant to most users, even technical ones. But I understand your point to be about non-technical people having more influence on, or power over/with, the high-priests of software tech, right?)

Anyhow, I'm all for improved communication. I've spent a lot of my life looking at how software can help. (Googles...) Gosh, I've been quoted in the bibliography of someone's thesis for a comment I posted almost a decade ago about "six hats" and software! (http://www.google.com/search?q=%22ralph+mellor%22+six+hats). I note that my email address then was democracy.tiac.net, named for some software I had conceptualized a decade earlier than that for bringing people with widely differing levels of assertiveness, expressiveness, linearity/logicality, and some other attributes, together in a more harmonious way (which in turn was inspired by some work at Xerox PARC in the early 80s). Really, there's been a huge number of people interested in this sort of stuff for a long time. I'm pretty sure Vannevar Bush had lots of this sort of stuff in his head in the 1940s, and Ted Nelson was clearly in the same space in the 1960s.

If you haven't already studied Debian closely, I think you should.

raiph 15:40, 27 Apr 2004 (PDT)

Interesting thesis you have pointed me to; must read it all, asap; I have noted what it says about *environment* ... and I must also take a better look at what you wrote about a Linux Standard Base. I would study Debian closely indeed, had i not gone past my time limit :( , while attempting to recover from the (compiler ??) error which made me tell some hostile listeners what i believed an (ict) *environment* should be.

Whatever i said to convey my views (and experience) on what an (ict) *environment* should be, was rated as *preposterous* by a corporate ict standard representative in the early 1990s. The context was a Government funded study and investigation on (what was then called) an Open System Environment. Aamof, ict industry reps rated as *preposterous* the whole idea of OSE standardization, because it was an attempt to go beyond technical standards, so that recipes (called profiles or functional standards) could be provided, for application software portability and interoperability to be achieved. "G" tells me that now OSE stands for Open Security Exchange. However, i'm pleased State of Texas is still quoting the OSE work i happened to be involved in (as an independent consultant who *was not British ;> * and *could not care less about the technicalities of standardization work*) .... That OSE work was later aborted, in Europe for good, because ict industry did not accept the idea of an international ict standardization based on process work and on publicly available specs.

Now i might try and have another go at saying what i believe an ict environment should be ... and remember it was ... from a former life :) .. after i have taken a long and deep breath ... Your patience and rationality are highly appreciated! -- LuBer 23:09, 28 Apr 2004 (PDT)

1) First, a minor point. I've no idea if the thesis I referred to is at all relevant to anything you (or I) are interested in. Or if it's any good. I haven't seen it before. I haven't read it. I don't even recall the title.

2) I'm pretty sure everything I wrote on any LSB lists was purely marketing stuff (about misinterpretation of what "Linux Standard Base" means). I don't think what I wrote is relevant to what you're interested in. In contrast, the LSB itself should indeed be of prime interest to you. Did you know that it is an attempt to establish specific recipes (LSB levels) for application software portability and interoperability (within the Linux world)? I can give you a longer summary of the LSB, relating it to the topic you've raised on this page.

3) What do you know about Debian? Did you know of its extremely close association with the Open Source Initiative, who introduced the term "open source", and who are quoted at length in the State of Texas guide you linked above? I can give you a summary of Debian, relating it to the topic you've raised on this page.

4) So the OSE is preposterous, indeed. That's preposterous! My sense has grown over the last few years that, over the coming decades, the especially collaborative outputs and processes associated with truly open activity, from open source development to transparent government processes, are going to gain ground in government (including ict operations) worldwide.

5) I think one key element of this is web collaboration tools, especially those embodying wikiness, as I believe this element can radically alter the consensus building process and its outcomes. I created some pages -- wiki pages of course -- on this a few years ago at http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?OneText and http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?OneHyperText . Note the comments about Owen Ambur, the original force behind xml.gov, with whom I exchanged emails in, I believe, the late 90s. He was specifically interested in how to get various government agencies to standardize inter-agency data schemas (via XML DTDs). In general, my understanding is that the US government is currently very interested in openly developed, open standards based, open system profiles, even if Europe currently isn't.

raiph 08:34, 29 Apr 2004 (PDT)

Re your 1) and 2) points: i have removed the links you do not rate as relevant for my wording of what i believe an (ict based) *environment* should be made of. If i understand what you say about the LSB, it is the Linux equivalent of what OSI and OSE functional standardization was meant to be, before the (formal) international standard working groups were disbanded .... From a quick search i gather the latest topic they considered, in connection with interoperability, was the need for a "cultural adaptability" process ... i'll come back to this with ref. to your point 5).

Re point 3): about Debian all i know is what i find on the web ... and i'm planning to catch up starting from this http://www.openlabs.it/dtp/ (italian) Debian Translation Party; any summary of Debian you can give me will be very welcome indeed; what you say about State of Texas reminds me the NIST OSE Workshop meetings i attended: the contributions offered by that State always impressed me as the only example of user posture i had ever come across in standardization meetings;

Re point 4): yes, i share your view, but i don't believe it's going to happen from the top down;

In point 5), the government interest you mention proved powerless especially in Europe, when the OSI conformance testing strategy, the European Commission tried hard to steer, crashed against the obvious "cultural adaptability" problem; in 1995 my Italian translation of a ponderous European Procurement Handbook for Open Systems reached "just one" of a majority of national audiences, which were not up to the task of understanding its technical language; yet, most of the working documents used to produce the handbook dealt with topics available to industry experts 12 years earlier; an inevitable outcome, of course; today, things don't look much better; true, collaborative tools and wikiness can support a broader consensus building process ... but it's going to take something more than tools to generate a broader and diversified participation ... Some of the questions i would ask, and help looking for an answer to, are:

  • What is going to trigger a diversified participation (eg. in a OneText or OneHyperText achievement)?
  • How should technical language be translated for non technical peers, instead of dummies?
  • How should user wishful thinking be translated for technical peers, instead of gurus?
  • Could we say that a sharable environment is "a whole" encompassing
    • system space
    • user space
    • user - system interface space or .... translation space
    • other spaces which contribute to making the environment greater than the sum of its parts/spaces
  • How can a user-centric approach be applied both to how tools are designed, and how they are marketed ... without turning the traditional supply driven approach upside down?
  • If interoperability can be achieved in system space via metacommunication, how can metacommunication be achieved in a (social) environment which embeds a system and a user space, knowing that we come from hierarchical (working) environment experiences where metacommunicating was not allowed? (see zigzag tentative comment to this post re: Imbroglio Polyglotte)
  • Would you rate this as an interesting event? (it would be impossible for me to attend/contribute "directly")
  • ....

luber 14:23, 6 May 2004 (PDT)

If i understand what you say about the LSB, it is the Linux equivalent of what OSI and OSE functional standardization was meant to be

I don't know enough about the OSE. LSB's mission statement starts: "To develop and promote a set of standards that will increase compatibility among Linux distributions and enable software applications [that use those standards] to run on any compliant system." It's a profile, and promotion of that profile. More like the NIST APP perhaps?

about Debian all i know is what i find on the web"

Pay special attention to the democractic foundations, eg:

And note the connection with the LSB:

Re [gain ground in government] yes, i share your view, but i don't believe it's going to happen from the top down I think it's going to come from below in some countries, above in others. Consider China. Or Peru: Peruvian Congressman refutes Microsoft's "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" (F.U.D.) concerning free and open source software.

  • What is going to trigger a diversified participation (eg. in a OneText or OneHyperText achievement)?

Nothing in particular. Everything in general. ;> I think the chances of successfully predicting / planning a particular trigger are small. It's just the nature of the situation. I suspect that people prefer consensus based processes if they work as well as or outperform authoritarian based ones. I think a dominant network based communications infrastructure (as we have now) better supports consensus based processes than a dominant hierarchical communications infrastructure (as we used to have). So consensus based processes are in the midst of a long (100 year?) swing in their direction.

  • How should technical language be translated for non technical peers, instead of dummies?

This is conceptually the same as, say, how to translate political thought for the man-in-the-street. There is a slight shift toward the net as the medium, because the subject matter of technical language typically has an audience with access to the net. So translation of technical language, and the net, will probably be at the forefront of innovations related to these sorts of translations. However, it is again, imo, almost impossible to predict/plan the specifics. Better to just foster many attempts and a feedback process (ie evolution). The web moves us forward in that regard. Wikiness moves us forward beyond that. Systems such as ViewPoint may be yet another step forward from Wiki.

  • How should user wishful thinking be translated for technical peers, instead of gurus?

Same answer as previous question.

  • Could we say that a sharable environment is "a whole" encompassing
    • system space
    • user space
    • user - system interface space or .... translation space
    • other spaces which contribute to making the environment greater than the sum of its parts/spaces

Sure. ;>

  • How can a user-centric approach be applied both to how tools are designed, and how they are marketed ... without turning the traditional supply driven approach upside down?

More, easier communication.

  • If interoperability can be achieved in system space via metacommunication, how can metacommunication be achieved in a (social) environment which embeds a system and a user space, knowing that we come from hierarchical (working) environment experiences where metacommunicating was not allowed? (see zigzag tentative comment to this post re: Imbroglio Polyglotte)

Interesting. You introduced the hierarchical aspect. My answer would be you lose the hierarchical hangups.

  • Would you rate this as an interesting event? (it would be impossible for me to attend/contribute "directly")

No idea. What it's attempting is interesting. I don't know if this particular attempt is interesting.

  • ....

A link from the last link reminded me of Doug Englebart's vision, and that neatly gets me back to Mozilla. Maybe Mozilla should focus on supporting Doug Engelbart's vision. I'd almost rather hear of a strategic alliance with the Bootstrap Institute than with the Gnome Foundation...

raiph 19:31, 8 May 2004 (PDT)

Before getting into Debian and feel "actioned" on using it .... and contributing to its development .... i've got to get myself the type of environment which would make me feel protected and/or "enabled" ...

... in what sense ? i'm trying to come to terms with that .... while exploring a Wiki based approach

luber