[Dextrose] [Sugar-devel] Sugar UI Dictator

C. Scott Ananian cscott at laptop.org
Mon Nov 22 09:19:23 EST 2010

(apologies for not having the time to make these messages shorter)

Another way of thinking of this problem might be as civics-style
separation of powers.

Given that the problem is (simplified) "UX design compromised by
developers" (wrong target users, implementing the easiest thing,
whatever) -- how are we to guard against this?

Any solution will necessarily "slow development".  That needs to be
acknowledged as a cost.

One solution might be to have a monthly "UX oversight board" meeting.
For proper separation of powers, no member of the board may have a
patch up for review by the board (or they must recuse themselves).
Board candidates should also be chosen based on their resumes, not
just because "we think they could be convinced to serve".

I suggest that it would be easier to fill the board if you keep the
workload as light as possible.  Therefore you could have a (large?)
"design team" group whose job was *not* to make design decisions, but
rather to facilitate the work of the oversight board.  The board's
work would be easy if it had a nice agenda for their meeting (which
they didn't have to prepare themselves!) listing each patch/bug up for
review, summarizing discussion pro/con, with relevant
screenshots/video.  The board could meet at a scheduled time each
month (on IRC, or Skype, or videoconference) and (if necessary) voices
pro/con the various proposals could show up and argue their case.  The
"design team" facilitators could then summarize the meeting, prepare
minutes, guide the development of revised patches as necessary, etc.

Timing/frequency/size of the board could be varied as time goes on
based on workload, etc.

Regardless of the strawman proposal above, my main point here is to
suggest thinking about the role of design as a deliberate frustration
of developers -- in the same way that the legislature and courts are a
deliberate frustration of the power of the executive.  I think this
mindset would lead to a very different idea of "Design Dictator" that
the one proposed early in this thread -- whose function seemed to be
to rubber-stamp/expedite patches, not preserve UX.

ps. ...and preserving UX seems orthogonal to the task of "maintaining
design documents", which is a separate job description at litl, at

                         ( http://cscott.net/ )

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