I’m having a hard time understanding what their intentions are. On the one hand they lament the state of web publishing software (concluding to build their own) and on the other, lambast a tool that aims to at least make the publishing part easier. I’m all for constructive criticism and feedback (to answer one of their points, our pre-launch hype was really a product of the fact that people are still hungry for a better browser), but I don’t see much in their posts that’s constructive. It’s almost as if they’d prefer us to just take our gloves and baseball and go home.
Which is admittedly somewhat disappointing since I would have expected a little more engagement from them before writing the whole thing off. We’ve particularly gone to great lengths to make it quite clear that we’re just getting started and are looking for feedback! And yet they’re essentially taking what come across as cheap shots. Where’s the substance of their critique?
As I’m considering this, I guess there is one thing that might not make sense about how we’re building Flock — and why we released Flock as we did. We’re not, for example, keeping everything closed up and super-secret, going after the first run experience and trying to blow your socks off (like Apple typically does). So for most Mac users, this is probably a strange departure from the norm.
I know that when I download a Mac app for the first time, I go through a process similar to Ryan’s. Typically if I’m not impressed or the value isn’t made obvious to me in first 10 seconds, it will end up in the trash. That’s just how it is.
If I were to apply that metric to Flock 0.4.9, it would probably meet a similar fate after a day or two. It’s just too buggy and too slow to be used as my primary browser. And quite frankly, if I weren’t on the dev team, I’d have no idea when to expect new features, when performance might be improved or when my pet feature might show up. As a result, it would be very easy to pass on Flock (at least for the time being) and stick with what I’ve got.
But we’re not Apple and we’re not building Flock that way. We’re doing something different. We have a vision: to build a world-class browser that focuses not only on bringing information into the browser, but also encourages engagement in web-centered dialogue and discussion. To do this, we’re not going to hole up for a year and then spit out some fantastic product. Our process of designing for inclusivity is nearly as important as the product itself and will, we believe, lead to a much more interesting, usable and powerful tool.
We’re starting first with a fairly simple collection of tools for now. But over time, they will grow into the story of a more interactive, more human-friendly online experience. It’s not enough to say that Flock could be replicated with a bunch of extensions and themes; doing so ultimately ignores the problem that we’re working on. Flock isn’t being designed to be static or to sit on your desktop for years without changing. It will be a product that will change and evolve according to how people use the web to communicate and interact. Firefox did an excellent job of smoothing out the Internet Explorer model of the web. We’re working on what happens next.
So those wishing to share and shape this vision are incouraged to get involved (even if all you have for now is constructive criticism). I firmly believe that the best ideas for Flock will not come only from us, but more importantly from our community.