Friday, May 06, 2005


Are you sick of that word yet? (remixing). sorry. I had to join the bandwagon and comment.

I read this article by joel a while ago that talked about the unix vs windows mentality of building software.

In unix, you build small tools that can be combined together very flexibly (but are typically hard for end-users to use). In windows you build apps that solve a particular use case (but cannot typically be resused/remixed). Unix tools were built by programmers, for programmers, while windows applications were written for end-users.

Companies traditionally have focussed on trying to build end-user applications. They want to completely address every user's problems and dumb you down to a particular workflow. And while that's a nice thought, it totally ignores their most important users; the ones that find great new ways of taking the best parts of what's out there and putting it together. Not all your users will be able to do that; but as soon as one of them does, someone (maybe not you; maybe them, maybe someone else) will find a way to make it easy enough for everyone to use.

Business folk often talk about core competency but when it comes to building software products, they forget about leveraging the core competencies of others in addition to their own, and instead try to be everything to everyone.

As technology creeps into people's daily toolkit, vernacular, and lifestyle; more of us are comfortable thinking like programmers; we're comfortable combining tools together to create 'applications' that are customized to our lifestyle. And that's part of what is enabling the new band of internet innovaters to start building small, great tools.

You've probably heard all of this before. Re-reading the above paragraphs, it feels like I'm replaying a monologue that has been played many times before. But the problem is that there's only a small group of people shouting the same things amongst themselves. Companies are still sitting around scheming up new ways of trying to be everything to their users instead of finding a core competency, kicking ass in that area, and leveraging the brilliant work of others.

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