1 min read

Experience-led open source?

Aral Balkan has just announced a new project (code-named Prometheus, but here’s hoping it’s better than the diasppointing Ridley Scott film) that aims to bring the everyday tech user to open source.

Through how? A focus on experiences rather than features.

The only way I see of creating a different world is if we suceed in moving open source beyond the realm of über geeks to create a third alternative to design‐led closed source and features‐lead open source: design‐led open source. And the only way I see of doing that is to create a new platform with new products. Products that are experience‐driven and design‐led. Products that compete on user experience, not on ideology. Products that are a great experience out of the box and just happen to be open.

Balkan points to the general apathy about privacy and open source by the general tech consumer, combined with the everyday annoyances related to open source solutions such as installing apps on Ubuntu (anything that involves opening terminal is frightening even to a number of designers!) It does bring an interesting point up: while Android is in theory an open system, it does still demand a Google account. I haven’t messed with the Firefox OS as of yet so do wonder whether he’s being harsh about it being feature-driven, but he also hopes to work with open source companies as well as providing a different angle.

Certainly it does bring about an interesting argument: what open source technologies are out there that are also fantastic user experiences? And how do they compete with closed ones? Firefox started to suffer a few performance issues around the time that Chrome came out. Drupal is OK but nowhere near as pleasant to use as WordPress.

Please give any good examples below.

But on to the crux of Balkan’s post: he wants to reinterpret open design. To me, it sounds as if he wants to do design that is ‘ajar’. This term is one that was used by Tom Hulme of IDEO in regards to Open IDEO work. How do you work in the open space as a designer and yet create fantastic experiences?