The Real Life “Lord of the Flies” experiment that went wrong

1:17 pm community, gnome

While reading “The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight”, it occurred to me that the real cost (and tragedy) of Unity and GNOME Shell, or KDE and GNOME, is that it turns us into “us” and “them” – and at that point it is really easy to fall into the trap of reducing all criticism to “haters gonna hate”.


8 Responses

  1. Benjamin Otte Says:

    … or Shell vs Fallback

  2. Aaron Seigo Says:

    I can’t speak to the Unity/Shell (or Shell/Fallback) issues as they are different kinds of beasts .. but I will say that KDE/GNOME does not have to turn us into “us” and “them”.

    In the past it certainly has, though in the present it is less so in certain circles and it certainly could be more widespread.

    While competition will always exist where there is overlap, it can be competition with the “us”. I do also think that there are some very small areas of overlap that cause much more grief than needed (desktop shells being the epitome of this).

    I have been shocked to hear, not once but twice, in the last year directly from GNOME contributors (not on blogs or online, but in person) that there is a certain animosity towards KDE amongst significant #s of GNOME contributors because KDE software uses things they work on and/or have created. This is a direct outcome of the tragey you refer to in your blog post and is utterly unnecessary. We should be celebrating these victories of “us”ness.

    This can happen when people in their own community stand up and start showing others how to do this and even start requesting/expecting that their immediate peers do so.

    The hubris of thinking we can achieve everything we want to with a fractured F/OSS desktop space is a false dream.

    So .. while I can’t weigh in on the other us/them splits you mentioned, know that there are many of us out there who wish the us/them dichotomy of KDE/GNOME to fade away.

    One thing I’ve recently taken to doing is to try to not refer to people as “KDE people” or “that GNOME person” but as “KDE contributors” or “s/he’s a GNOME contributor”. This turns it from an identity issue to one of where a person’s efforts go. There’s no reason one could not be a KDE and a GNOME contributor (just by looking at the language used), but it is much harder to understand how one can be both a “KDE person” and “GNOME person” (though it can also be imagined, if with more effort). I’ve tried this concept with a few people (both KDE and GNOME participants) and it seems to work as intended.

    In short, I hear your angst over the issue .. and remain optimistic we can improve things that we identify as less than good. 🙂

  3. Antoine Says:

    Thanks a lot for the pointer, Dave; it’s a very interesting read.
    When I skim through the GNOME mailing-lists, I am appalled at the level of group-thinking some of the developers there seem to have achieved.

  4. Dave Neary Says:

    @Aaron: Thanks for your comments. I’m not aware of the examples you mention, but I’ve certainly seen tensions between our communities, and a natural tendency to keep among ourselves. I’m not particularly angsty about the issue, but when you see that “us and them” is a natural conclusion of what Jono Bacon has called building belonging, you can see why these things come about, and why they’re so hard to resolve.

    Then again, the Germans and French were at their throats for centuries, and they appear to be coming to terms with that these days in the face of a common adversary.

  5. Simon Says:

    Dave, Aaron – I don’t see too much antagonism from the Gnome and KDE contributors themselves. There’s some, sure, but for the most part the people who actually do the work behave pretty well.

    Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said of the fans. There are a lot of people out there who don’t seem to contribute in any way, but are extremely vocal in support of their chosen desktop, and critical beyond all reason towards the other. And even more unfortunately, those people tend to drown out the rational responses of the real contributors.

    To be honest, they’re a lot like the worst sports fans – the ones who abuse the ref and throw bottles onto the field when things aren’t going their way…

  6. saulgoode Says:

    “One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ‘them’ out there. It’s just an awful lot of ‘us’.” — Douglas Adams

  7. Dave Neary Says:

    @saulgoode: If only that were true. Alas, it’s far to easy to fall into the trap of them & us. Pretty much any group bigger than 2 people ends up that way at some point.

  8. renoX Says:

    Sometimes competition is good though: for example Firefox’s electrolysis project is a direct result from Chrome’s competition.

    Given that UIs are quite arbitrary Gnome&KDE competitions do have benefits too.

    The rpm vs .deb packaging war seems to be only a big waste of time though..

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