Monthly Archives: May 2009

GNOME: Oh dear, here they come again

I was hopeful to see some major changes in GNOME Topaz (3.0). But now I have quickly viewed the discussions on the marketing list. Especially those threads:

  1. GNOME Marketing Strategy (Was Audiences), Paul Cutler
  2. GNOME 3.0 slogans, Michael Hasselmann

PLEASE DONT (do it again)

Dont waste your time thinking again about target audiences and slogans. Some say the real target audience are distributions. But distributions care for whatever their users care. You have users – a desktop is something universal.

It doesnt work that way, that a handful of coders and other geeks randomly gather virtually and every 6 months think about some new marketing stuff. The GNOME 3.0 goals were some good direction. The problem now is to get this ideas done. I dont think GNOME will be able to do it all in one step. The problems and solutions are on the table, already. There are GNOME users – you need to communicate with them. Dont let such stuff happen like Ubuntu did with the FUSA applet.

Those discussions are fruitless and have been talked about every once in a while. They never led to anywhere. This is partly because GNOME is controlled by the coders and some major corporations like Nokia, Canonical, Red Hat or Novell, who do finance some projects and pay some high profile developers. So those two groups do set the agenda. GNOME does not and will not have any marketing of its own. It does have some accidental marketing, but this is never tough through. Who should deliver such messages? If any slogan is chosen, you really think any distributor cares about slogans?

In the past marketing has been called propaganda. Its a matter to manipulate the human mind – its neither a development model nor an organizational model.  GNOMEs organization is not very well stuffed. There is not a lot of money and there are only a handful of people doing stuff. he GNOME Board does not have a lot of power and the developers not necessrily listen to what they say. Even less is true for the GNOME marketing team. No developer really cares about what they think or write. Fact.

I think from the birth GNOME tries to be user focused, but it still struggles with this goal and if people draw a picture of GNOME the users still do not appear. Developers are important, but without the users, nobody would use the software. And GNOME is unlike OpenBSD not a project which is mainly used only by experts, but very broadly.  But this is not reflected in the development proces. I think the best thing would be to integrate the users more into development decisions. The answer is not to let some geeks define goals for the users. The users have to do that themselves. The only possibility to give feedback is the GNOME Bugzilla. But this is mostly also not very user friendly. There is no option for users to give simple feedback. A user submitting a bug report often gets a reply to try out alpha or beta versions of the software package. This cant be true! Those geeks are just way too far away of genera users to be able to feel what those might want ot need. Even worse: Why should any developer be motivated to solve any issue a user has?

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EU Parliament video stream is not open

I recently discovered the EU parliament life video stream. But I found that there is no open standard. They only provide WMV and MPEG4. This sounds weird, because the EU ist struggling for year against Microsofts monopoles in different sectors. But when it comes to the coverage of the heart of the EU they depend on Microsoft technology without alternative.

One technology that should be used ist OGG Theora. It would allow everybody, even with free software to watch the debates. It cant be that you are forced to use Windows, just to participate as a citizen of the european union!?

A quote from their website:

What formats are available and why?

Two video formats are available:

  • WMV (Windows Media Video)
  • MPEG-4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)

These two formats both meet the following requirements:

  • Streaming: Each event is broadcast in real time, which requires the use of Streaming. Progressive downloading, often used for broadcasting videos on the web, is not sufficient.
  • Multilingualism: Each event is broadcast in all the official languages of the European Union (when interpretation is available).
  • Simultaneity: Parliament currently broadcasts up to 6 events simultaneously and will soon be able to broadcast up to 13.
  • Multi-bitrate: Each event is broadcast in three different qualities to allow access by the largest possible number of citizens, depending on their internet infrastructure.
But none of these two format meet the requirements that everybody can use them as they are patented. Anybody has an idea how to change policy, so that every Linux user can participate in european democracy. Some organisations already do that, thankfully. I like to point out german Deutschlandfunk radio who provide a OGG Vorbis Audio stream for some years now as an alternative to MP3. I dont quite know if it is possible with Theora to meet all the above requirements. But maybe we can find out or work on it and pressure the EU to add Theora as an alternative?

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