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The biggest flaw with open source software across basically all product categories is that we consistently fail to do anything more than, “things that exist, but open source”

I want to follow this up with something insightful and helpful, but I don’t know where to go from here. This keeps me up at night

@danirabbit that's because the "things that exist" were created by businesses that have a marketing and advertising department, a user research dept, a support center, an art dept, and possibly a strategic partnerships exec, etc...

The "things that exist" are the product of much more than just software. As long as open source only concerns itself with source code, the result will be the same.

@danirabbit what do you mean in particular?
In my opinion open source took slowly every server component.
Earlier in history there was basically no market share of free databases, operating systems or even IDEs. Today they are dominating.

Or do you commercially?
Then again there's Sentry, @plausible, MongoDB, Sidekiq, Plex etc

@danirabbit Yes. Take Office software. There is MS Office, and there are some open source knock-offs that are aimed to be an equivalent to MS, but not surpass it. Sure there is a market for that. But there is so much more that could be done since the 80's.

@ianp5a @danirabbit Perhaps it's a perspective problem.

For example, if we define a product category (office tools) by popular proprietary software (MS Office), then it's hard to see innovation since we only include the "knockoffs". But if we broaden the category to include something like Emacs, then we start to see cool ideas, new approaches, user empowerment, etc.

But I agree that expanding those categories is tricky. If a user expects an MS Word clone how do we offer them vim?

@antolius @danirabbit a great way to move past Word is to look at what the users really need. Some might still want the paper world replicated on a PC. But many need to manage information. Where Office is all they have to do it with. And MS wants to keep the profitable 90s advantage going for as long as possible.

@danirabbit If by that you mean that open source tends to copy existing proprietary products rather than come up with something new, I'd have to disagree based on my own experience. I led the Eclipse Virgo project a while back and it was OSGi-based innovation from the ground up. Another example is Linux container technology leading to Docker and Kubernetes. Then there is Rustlang.

@danirabbit as products, yes. But when someone else makes a new closed product, there are an army of open source people pointing out a half-impemented project on some gitorious server which already was a proof of concept and therefore the proprietary one is simply a ripoff. This, of course, is because a product is more than just a project; you know this more than most people in open source do, I think.

@danirabbit to make a good open source product, you have to have an idea, design it, build a proof of concept, put in the work to turn it into a real thing, do publicity so people hear about it and it gets popular. That's hard. Hardly anyone can do all that, and putting together a team without money is difficult.

If you copy someone else's thing, then you get idea, design, and publicity and popularity for free, which makes the problem tractable to a single person or a small team.

@sil @danirabbit Yes If you have an idea and are not a programmer, it is easier to approach a company to create it. Plus the FOSS world attracts IT techies and repels others, so ideas tend to be tech solutions rather than programs with broader appeal.

@sil @danirabbit Software is a high risk endeavor, and gobs of software that meets people's needs would never really be found on the market because it's way too specialized. Commodity desktop software is a very well trod area, with a seriously cantankerous user base. And popular things that involve DRM are a serious corporate hurdle. So many reasons we can't have nice things.

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