Re: What is GNOME and Getting some real data on users

Thanks for the writing and thinking, John. I'm reading now and hope to
have a coherent response in the next few days- I hope others will as

On Wed, 9 Feb 2005 09:07:25 +1300, John Williams
<JWilliams business otago ac nz> wrote:
> Hi team
> (Sorry, this is a long post.  Key points are marked by ****)
> This list is characterised by people saying things like:
> - What users really want is ....
> - Actually, most users don't do that at all.  They ...
> - Most users don't ...
> And so on.
> I have been lurking on this list for quite some time now and have been
> struggling to understand what it means to "market" GNOME.  (Btw, is it
> Gnome or GNOME?  Does it matter?)  Most of the discussion seems to make
> the implicit or explicit assumption that what the marketers of GNOME
> want is more users.
> Why?
> If you get more users you will then get more (probably clueless) bug
> reports (that need to be triaged), more feature requests, more inane
> questions, lowered signal-to-noise ratio on communication channels etc.
> What's in it for you guys?  (This is a rhetorical question: I think I
> know the answer.  And of course it begs the question "Who, exactly, are
> the producers/manufacturers/owners of GNOME?")  The motivations of the
> producers need to be stated clearly before the marketing team can make
> any meaningful progress.
> I suspect the answer boils down to some variant of frustration at the
> general crappiness of interacting with one's personal computer, and the
> frustration of having to rely on money-grubbing unethical corporations
> for the privilege of doing so.  And getting gouged again and again for
> it.
> When I try to explain what GNU/Linux and GNOME is to people who don't
> know what an operating system is (or even a file, folder/directory or
> hard drive sometimes) I almost always say things like:
> 1.  You know how there's always stories in the news about viruses, and
> how when you browse the web you get all sorts of pop-up windows trying
> to scam you, so that using the Internet is an uncertain and scary
> experience?  Well, the system I use has none (OK, not none, but hardly
> any) of that.
> 2.  You know how if the software you're using doesn't work right, you
> can't do anything about it.  If you email the company, nothing happens,
> or they tell you to buy the next version, but won't promise that your
> problem will be fixed?  Well, the system I use is written by people who
> love to get bug reports and often will fix bugs and release new versions
> (for free!) in a few weeks or even days!  And there is a large community
> of people who can (and will) answer your questions on-line.  And it's
> all free!
> (I used to say "You know how Windows crashes all the time?"  but now I
> don't because later versions of Windows seem significantly more stable
> to me.)
> These, IMHO, are the reasons that will resonate with people, be they
> clueless newbies or CTOs.  It's all about slowly eliminating all the
> hassles of interacting with your computer and the Internet.  The fastest
> way to do that seems to me to be the Free Software way.
> This is all very pragmatic of course.  RMS would probably have a fit.  I
> do find, however, that when I talk about the philosophical points of
> Free Software, that people understand easily.  For the end user (rather
> than the CTO) RMS's points are simple and easy to understand.  Maybe
> that's a cultural thing (I'm in New Zealand).
> **** So, after all this blathering I propose that any "What is GNOME"
> answers touch on the two points above.
> Next: finding out what people want.
> I am interested in making it less of a hassle to interact with computers
> and the Internet.  I have not delved into the literature, but I suspect
> that perhaps it doesn't exist.  However I have the following to offer.
> **** I work in a university.  In my building we have half a dozen
> computer labs that seat around 30 people each.  The users in these labs
> are a mixture ranging from arts and humanities students who are the most
> clueless newbs imaginable to computer science postgrads.  They are all
> monitored by CCTV.  I have an opportunity to
> (a) observe people using computers
> (b) ask them questions about it
> I have a few vague ideas about what I would like to know, but I would
> rather ask for your burning questions.  Specifically, when discussing
> the issues that are raised in this list, what assumptions do you make
> about how users act and what they think?  I can test whether these
> assumptions are in fact true.
> **** I may be able to get a grant from my school (of Business) to
> conduct a proper study.
> I apologise for the length of this post  (It's pretty much
> flow-of-consciousness.  Perhaps it would have been better as two
> separate posts.  Oh well, too late now.  I have to go.  Bye!)
> --
> marketing-list mailing list
> marketing-list gnome org

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