Re: Worse is better

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From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Wed Mar 15 2000 - 23:18:32 PST

Last one for the night, I promise... ;-)

I actually think that, while valid, the "better marketing -> network effects"
argument is a rather naive one. I think there are technical and techno-cultural
forces at play as well.

Gabriel makes a much more complete and eloquent argument for why "bad" technologies
often have better survival characteristics in his diatribe (to which I FoRKed a link
to earlier. Y'all should read it, it's an eye-opener. This from the designer of
CLOS, no less, basically damning the whole "diamond-like jewel" design philosophy of

Tidbits: "Integration is God." "The virus [poorly and quickly designed but
open-world solution, particularly UNIX] lives while the complex organism
[beautifully and meticulously designed closed systems, i.e. Lisp, Common Lisp, CLOS,
and Lisp Machines] is stillborn." (My insertions, his opinions.)

How about: "The lesson to be learned from this is that it is often undesirable to
go for the right thing first. It is better to get half of the right thing available
so that it spreads like a virus. Once people are hooked on it, take the time to
improve it to 90% of the right thing."

For that matter, I think ESR's cathedral / bazaar rants approach essentially the
same problem --- i.e., survivability preference of fast, "good enough is good
enough" development vs. perfection in engineering --- from a slightly more cultural
/ situated perspective.

As always, $0.02,


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