Open Source Fashion Statement #1: Wear a Flak Jacket

Flak JacketDavid Parmet offers excellent advice for folks looking to do the public releas early and often thing (yeah, like we did):

The whole release early, release often mentality is good in theory. When practiced against an impatient audience, it can quickly squash whatever goodwill and coolness factor a start-up can generate. And the process will only feed itself as more start-ups do alpha releases (if alpha is the new beta, what’s the new alpha) and invite-onlyl pre-alpha pre-releases in response to a blogosphere hungry for the Next Cool Thing(tm).

So what’s the solution? Managing expectations can only take you so far. So release early and put on your flack jacket.

Don’t believe the hype at Marketing Begins At Home

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Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

3 thoughts on “Open Source Fashion Statement #1: Wear a Flak Jacket”

  1. It would also help not to throw lots of big parties to hype your product (or even your ideas) until they’re good enough to live up to that hype.

    It’s not as if all the buzz was a big accident. I mean, I was there at OSCON when you guys came on the scene to get some buzz from the press and people attending there. I saw the guestlist and photos you posted for the San Francisco party. A few months ago you all were not only working to generate that buzz, you were eating it up (look back at those photos). Now it seems that you’re blaming outside forces for drumming up that buzz.

    I don’t believe this has anything to do with releasing _code_ early and often. I’d wager that your problem with expectations is a result of releasing a very loud buzz machine early and often.

    – A

  2. something odd happened to my name in the above post. It’s me, Asa 🙂

  3. Hey Asa,

    Thanks for stopping by. I would certainly agree with you that the way we talked about ourselves and the kinds of parties we threw early on were a bit… over the top. Yes, we fell into the trap of overhyping the promise of this thing we saw ourselves working on and believe me, we’ve become a lot more humble about it since then… I think personally I had a lot to do with this, since my vision and enthusiasm remains as strong and as consistent as what it was months ago. It’s just when I talk about it now, I do try to keep in mind that code is the gold standard here, not just vision.

    Was all the hype an accident? Was it intentional? Were we early in promoting the big ideas? Yeah, possibly, considering that it’s taking 8 bazillion years longer than I hoped to ship stuff. Mea culpa on that one, I didn’t realize how friggin’ hard it is a) to build cross-platform client software (if you thought cross-platform CSS was bad…. heh) and b) to work on top of someone else’s large [and mostly unfamiliar] codebase.

    Regardless, we’ve learned an awful lot since that initial time period; just over a month ago I posted about the idea that maybe open source projects shouldn’t really have “launch parties”. Y’know, throwing Bar Camps probably makes more sense.

    But in spite of all that — the lessons we’ve learned, the timing of our release (coinciding after all, with the Web 2.0 conference), the rocky start we’ve gotten off to and the hype, anti-hype around all things Web Point Oh — my post was about two things: first, constantly forecasting our demise is tiresome (look, if we don’t deliver, we’re effed anyway) and second, that there’s a broader, longer term vision at work here in what we’re building. So again, whether Flock makes it or not, we’ve still got our work cut out for us, both in the blogosphere and in open source — and in my own selfish ways, I would just like to see a lot of this negative energy exerted towards a conversation about where Flock (again, read: open source and the blogosphere) could end up one day, if, right?, we all put our heads together.

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