On the advent of neue design in technology, open source

Firefox set a good model for the rest of the open source world when it infused simple, clean design into a very useful tool. Seems to me that this trend is tantamount to what is coming up next in the world of technology and online living. Of course, you can’t really have one or the other, but the core differentiator that will set one app above the rest or result in widespread adoption will be rooted in user experience, not in the number of features or power.

So, I hate making predictions, but I think I can make a few observations about how design might well change the software/webapp landscape in the not-too-distant future:

  • Digg is outpacing Slashdot: everyone’s spreading the meme it seems; boy oh boy, ugly never hurt so bad
  • SourceForge will die from a thousand cuts (and it’s about time — no, 8′ tall ads and shiny will not save you from yourself)
  • Flickr and Bubbleshare will continue to gain over Ofoto (Kodak EasyShare Gallery), Smugmug: it’s the social, stupid!
  • Facebook and MySpace destroy the future of Friendster, et al: sorry, but they have their audience nailed
  • WordPress will continue its meteoric rise over more complicated (and ugly! (sorry, Drupal!)) apps like Drupal and Joomla
  • Ubuntu will outstrip RedHat on the personal desktop: Linux for Human Beings, sounds like a good place to start, doesn’t it?

But these are just my humble observations, and given that I’m no analyst, are subject to change, revision, contradiction and further extrapolation.

Author: Chris Messina

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

6 thoughts on “On the advent of neue design in technology, open source”

  1. well…. i’m not sure the “winning” is due to simple and clean design in a lot (most?) of your scenarios.

    first off, bubbleshare is so new I’m not sure it could really be considered to be competing with anyone *yet*. an flickr’s rise I think has way more to do with the social – as you’ve said yourself.

    ubuntu vs. redhat – while i agree ubuntu certainly is making gains… i don’t think that’s due to simple/clean interface. i mean, ubuntu still uses primarily the debian installer… and they ship with a nearly identical package set. i happen to personally agree with ubuntu > redhat – but redhat has all but abandoned *people* and are focused principally on *company*.

    but, of course, my /real/ beef is with the WP vs. Drupal . You need to move beyond that comparison… they’re different creatures. apples ‘n’ oranges, yadda yadda. try WP vs. MT/TypePad or even Typo – or Drupal vs. Mambo (or plone, or whatever).

  2. Hey Walkah, yeah i’m jabbing at Drupal not because it is like WordPress or “competes” with it (I do actually know that there’s a fundamental difference) but because that distinction will become less and less useful as time goes on. Matt has plans to incorporate rich media and platform for extensible… if I’m a vlogger and choosing between WordPress and Drupal, the technical distinctions between the two platforms will become less and less valid if Drupal doesn’t catch up with the each of use and polish that WordPress features.

    So if you do anything in Drupal 4.8, please, for the love of all things open source!, get rid of Blue Marine!!

  3. Chris; A very good observation. I think you are right in all points! (But where is Ruby on Rails; the 2006 hype?).

    off course I got lured into this when I thought: oh, cool. wordpress vs drupal. whohoo!

    I *personally* start to beleive more and more that Drupal should ditch its Joe Schmoe focus and focus on those in charge. Drupal does not have to be fancy and Vlogger friendly. It should not try to have diggalickr-my-blog stuff. Those using the web, I mean really making out the masses, are not those that can install WordPress, anymore. They are not the ones that manage to commandline-sado-masochist themselves a Drupal install. They are the blogger.coms and the myspaces. the hotmails and msn-networks.

    In that world, Drupal has a huge pro: it is very largescaledploymentfriendly. It appeals to those choosing the technology for such networks. (in .nl the largest blog provider, web-log.nl, 300k weblogs, is working on moving to Drupal).

    Therefore, eventhough the Gary Geeks of the world choose WordPress, the Joe Schmoes could very well be using Drupal much more in near future.
    I beleive (but i have to stress *personal* again) that drupal should stop trying to appeal to Joe Schmoe. And rather become that what it is so good at: a technical superior system, to build (networks of) websites on.

    Ber -being personal- Kessels. 🙂

  4. Hi Chris:

    I’m going to tackle only your comment on Ubuntu. Totally in agreement with you. I just received five CDs via Air Mail from the Ubuntu’s people and used it partially. I tried to connect it (Firefox) to the Internet but no joy.

    Help did not “help” me. Can you give me an idea how can I get Ubuntu to configure my Internet connection?

    Installing is great and the look and feel is just fine. My only problem is surfing the web. As you know, they are bundling Firefox and not Flock. Why not?



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