Don Marti

Wed 22 Mar 2006 09:53:22 PM PST

Write the Manual First

Every time either Doc Searls or I goes to CES, we end up talking about all the groovy small manufacturers who, for some reason, never bothered to learn how hard Consumer Electronics really is, and show up with amazing high-functionality, low-cost products in 10x10 booths.

One year a half-dozen companies did Linux-based PDAa, and each one rolled its own GUI and media player. That's a huge project. So why don't they rule the world? Why are our stores still full of DRM-infected, overmarketed, limited-functionality crap? Well, most of the 10x10 crowd are pretty far short of the mark in the documentation and UI department.

But we can peer-produce documentation and UI. It's just HTML. Small manufacturers can download Linux and incorporate it in a product—let's see if they'll do the same for a peer-produced product manual and UI.

This is not about writing a "specification". That's old-fashioned command-and-control marketing talk. This is about peer-producing all the other customer-visible stuff in the box—manual, quick start guide, sticker sheet. Just add hardware and Bob's your uncle.

Discussion at IT Garage.