[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

D. Joe Anderson deejoe@raccoon.com
Fri Oct 17 06:57:24 PDT 2003

On Thu, Oct 16, 2003 at 12:43:45AM +1000, Jeff Waugh wrote:

>   (e) It is okay that you do not seem to be in our target audience. :-)

> I have multiple terminals on my screen every day. That's how I work. My
> friend, who is a highly mentally agile lawyer / diplomat's assistant,
> doesn't. She barely changes the defaults, beyond choosing a theme she likes
> from the pre-installed selection.

We've got programmers and we've got system administrators.  The
distinction isn't hard and fast: Coders administrate sometimes,
and administrators code sometimes.

In that other complexity-filled world of 'code' brought up in
this example, we have legislators doing the writing, and more
generally lawyers (and other professionals) who help folk
navigate through the resulting sea of code.[1]


If one is concerned about the technically naive or
disinterested[2] end-user of one's code, one should also keep in
mind the people who may be called in to install, configure,
debug, customize, or train people to use that code in the field.

Don't write it just for them, necessarily, but keep in mind that
if, indeed, Randy the Receptionist is going to be able to toss
aside that proprietary OS and application suite for a free one,
he's going to need someone to both train him how to do what he
needs done or to set up the machine to have the software he
needs installed.  ie, Karsten et al

Generally, it is a laudable goal to try to write laws that
people can live under without constant resort to legal advice.
It's perfectly understandable for someone like your friend,
Jeff, to want you to write code that she can use without needing
a code monkey at her shoulder every step of the way.  

But at some point, when things get legally sticky, one calls in
a professional legal advisor.  On a computer running even the
best designed, best implemented software (ie, yours ;-) a
similar time will come when one needs to bring in those who
really do pay attention to the details of how it all fits
together behind the scenes.[3]

It's probably hard, when one is trying to think outside the
context of one's own geekish tendencies, to then reintroduce an
element of consideration for others who have similar tendencies. 

I admire (mostly ;-) and appreciate (unreservedly) your efforts
in this regard.


[1] apologies to Lessig et al  I really should read some of his
books, instead of just reading about his books.

[2] some of us are pretty hostile, based for example on our
experiences with the proprietary software industry where the
practice is endemic, to treating people as hapless, dependent
consumers.  But maybe we don't want to go there just now.  Maybe
acknowledging a mutual interdependence among specialists will be

[3] apologies also to those who may think a concise evocation of
"Murphy's Law" should have sufficed here.  

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