15 5 / 2012
Don’t be selfish
Historically most things have been shareable. I could lend you my jumper, you could lend me a book. Some things however adapt themselves to the user - like shoes or fountain pens - these are less likely to be shared.
Recently things have started to be designed to be selfish - like the iPod: Your music in your pocket. This led to the iPhone and iPad also being selfish by design - as well as all the other brands. By this I mean that if I borrow your phone it has your contacts in it. If I play your game I might change your high score. If I read a book on your Kindle I’ll change your last page read position.
But all these devices have network access. It would have been possible to build in a login screen that let you borrow someone else’s hardware and make it yours briefly - the various contacts and apps and data being fetched from the network as required. The devices would have become shareable and would not be selfish anymore.
My point is that they were not shareable from the start and so now people don’t expect them to be. This expectation that forms about how something works is very hard to shift once it has taken hold. Hence it is vital to get it right early on.
GitHub deserves massive praise for the way that it has created the feel that your code is both yours and shared at the same time. Being able to publish a repo and control it, whilst at the same time making it possible for anyone to copy it, change their copy and then send you back the changes is amazing. And, most importantly, it is what people expect to happen. It has sharing at its very core.
I’d like the data in PopIt to be thought of in the same way. I’d like people to run sites and get credit for their own work. And I’d like for others to be able to contribute so easily that it is almost as if that data is theirs too.
We’ll start adding user accounts etc to PopIt soon and right from the start we’ll be thinking about how best to encourage sharing and collaboration.