This is the work blog for the KDE Visual Design Group a group of dedicated designers striving to improve community participation in design for KDE as well as design work in general for KDE applications and Plasma.

söndag 2 mars 2014

Not the monday report but some clarification

In which I jammer on about the virtue of community, why I frowned and huffed during the Linux Action Show when things like "design by committee" was dragged up and why I hate the idea of "customers", "producers" and "salesmen"

"salesman" creative commons S A

So I was on Linux Action Show and blabbered on incoherently. I thought some clarifications where in order of why I suddenly got angry and upset :)

"Community" why is that more important than "Design"? Because it is design. It is the basis of Open Source Design. One of my favorite distros and desktops (aside from Plasma Desktop) is Crunchbang. It's one of my first pure Linux Loves and will always have a certain place in my heart.Crunchbang got one huge chunk of design right: communication. Design is communication - it is not just "make pretty", its the ability to communicate goals, ideals and ideas to a group. In Open Source the benefit we have is that everyone can be a part - we use it in almost every aspect, from the Kernel up to Widget programming. But we tend to forget Design because design have a myth about it of the "Lone Genius" and that "Design by committee" it's supposed counterpart is somehow "bad for design".

That is absolute garbage. I can't stress this enough. It is the art and communication theory equivalence of Intelligent Design and if you thought I reacted strongly on the Linux Action Show (huffing and puffing as I do), I would like to say that I was holding back because I didn't want to go into a tirade of swearwords.

Crunchbang made perhaps a defined visual setting and idea for almost everything "Back to black" etc, but its main Design is it's community which is one of the most helpful and laid back available in the world in my opinion. Openbox is fiddly to deal with in comparison to many other desktop environments but by being inviting as a community, being supportive and above all being humble to users needs - they bridge that issue without once having to get to the programming. They got (or perhaps by a lucky accident) that Design = Communication and Open Source = Community.

So Gnome does it wrong? No, no - I in hindsight realize I may have slighted the Gnome Designers somehow - really I didn't mean to. Design NOT by committee is easier - they streamlined their process a tad but by having design as a relevant thing they involved more than just a design team. That said I prefer to try to get it even MORE open. Gnome is a brilliant DE, it's well designed, there is a ton of love that has gone into it and it shows - it's just that I favor Plasma by KDE.
(Let me also say that the silly duality and argument "Plasma vs Gnome" is one that I have never bothered with. I think that there should be more unity between the two, but I realize my technical restrictions and leave that to others to talk about - beyond that there is no debate in my mind. I don't have to use Gnome or consider it my favorite to support it)

Further I despise Lone Genius designers. Seriously. If you can't be a mensch while designing or if you can't work with others please don't bother. The classical design-myth (writer myth, artist myth, musician myth) of the lone white, hetero dude who behaves like an ass but is excused because he is such a wonderful designer is one I consider to be one of the things holding Open Source Design back.
I'd rather have one happy amateur who just want's to learn, who want's to cooperate and create cool things with others than ten "lone genius" designers with decades of experience.

This is why the bar for contributing is low but the bar for criticism is high. Criticism doesn't get a free pass in my world it is an actual thing and something that can be "good criticism" or "bad criticism".
(Also I want more female designers! That and more designers who are people of color from Africa, Middle East and Asia! I can write at length on the virtue of a mixed group from different backgrounds - but that can be for another time. Just so you know)

Finally the weird "Users" and "Devs" thing. Yes I may have gotten a stroke I guess but this is another of my pet-peeves. I don't believe in users as the opposite of dev's. I believe in cooperation and co-conspirators. The idea with Open Source isn't just to air the source out to let it dry or something - it's to invite cooperation. Tell everyone "hey look at this, whaddaya think? Want to add something? Go for it!"

I fell in love with Linux and Open Source due to what I see as the reason it cannot be stopped. It transcends the logic of the "customer", "producer" and "salesman" and let us all be a part. Instead of thousands of customers we have thousands and thousands of devs, bug testers, designers and idea makers.

Let's remember that and focus on the most relevant bit of design, that chunk that is often forgotten: community.

Ok so tomorrow it's monday update and I'll focus more on our design goals, the ideas where heading for and I will try to lift the bonnet a tad to explain what we're going for so that everyone can be a part and suggest things... Just haven't figured out how to do that well ... :)

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