[Dextrose] [Sugar-devel] Sugar UI Dictator

C. Scott Ananian cscott at laptop.org
Mon Nov 22 08:25:42 EST 2010

Random thoughts, not terribly connected:

1) agree with developers != designers.  It's like developers !=
release managers.  We developers can often play at being a designer
(or a release manager), but we've got bad tendencies that sneak in,
just because we "know too much" or "know what's hard" or just start
thinking about how to code something instead of how to *use*
something.  It's fine to use developers as short-term stand-ins for an
empty slot, but we should keep in mind the dangers and compromises

2) That's not to say that a lot of the basic HIG work can't be done by
a developer -- or a teacher, or *anyone*, really.  There's a lot of
"don't want to touch that" paralysis that we should try to get over.
Step 1 of a HIG update could be to import the HIG into a more
appropriate non-wiki tool, or to radically restructure how it is kept
on the wiki to make it more of a living document, and/or to figure out
how versioning should work.  Step 2 is probably to go through and
red-line the existing document to describe how (and why) the existing
implementation doesn't currently match the design -- with maybe a
rough idea of whether its the design or the implementation that's "at
fault".  Both of these things don't actually need a designer, they
really need *time*.  A large "design team" composed mostly of folks
without design training can still be of great ongoing assistance with
these "paperwork" tasks.  Progress can/should be made independent of
finding the one perfect dictator.

3) I see a little bit of buck-passing going on, as a third-party
observer.  It seems like the real reason for a 3-person committee is
that no one wants to actually step up and take on the responsibility
of UX lead.  Unfortunately, lack of clearly defined responsibility is
the crux of the problem you're trying to solve, so I'm not certain
that splitting the horcrux is part of the solution.  Maybe it would be
help to identify a single dictator and lieutenants (rather than the
committee-of-3) with hat-passing as necessary -- so, for example, we
can have 4 (!) design leads, but each one is ultimate dictator for one
week a month.  That reduces time commitment without diluting
buck-stopping responsibility.

4) Agreed with the general sentiment that the best shouldn't obstruct
the good.  Even with the concerns I stated above about
designers!=developers, having someone step up and actually start
cleaning up the UX docs (and/or organizing the UX patch queue) is
probably the most important thing.  Dictatorship may (or may not)
naturally evolve from this; if Walter and/or OLPC are going to find
the perfect UX Design Dictator candidate in 2 months (say) then
consider what you can do in the meantime to pave the way for the
Messiah's arrival.

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