[Squeakfoundation]Concrete SqF projects

Raab, Andreas squeakfoundation@lists.squeakfoundation.org
Fri, 25 May 2001 20:03:33 -0700


> With the exception of the mini-faq, one question to think about is why
> haven't these consolidation and organization projects 
> happened already?

I think there are various reasons for this. You name complexity but my
feeling about this may not even be the primary issue here. The most
important issues are in my understanding:

* Presence and Advocacy
While I may set up a site listing all the information people would feel
pretty annoyed after a while if I'd post the same information every week,
saying "this piece of information is available here". If ten people start
doing this you see nothing but those kinds of messages. The SqF could
present that information in a single post, not only presenting the
information but also give it particular weight (hey, this is coming from SqF
- must be useful).

* Credibility
I, on my own, may be a good writer (frankly, I'm not but that's another
matter) but being a good writer doesn't give you any credibility with all of
us geeks. I am certain that we could find a number of people on the Squeak
mailing list who are excellent in varying areas but may not have the track
record in Squeak that either they or others may find necessary to consider
doing the things they're really good at. The SqF can change this by
approaching these people, putting its weight behind the effort, coordinating
between different types of people. I for myself would certainly write a
different reply to a person that is known to be the "FAQ maintainer" than I
would to some random person just dropping me a note.

* Lack of organizational structure
I recall a sort of "package listing" for Squeak waaaayyyy back by some guy
in the Netherlands (can't even recall his name - this was sometime in '97 or
so). But at some point he had to drop out of Squeak business for a number of
reasons and wanted to hand this over. Where could he go?! If there had been
an SqF which could have decided that this effort is worth to keep up it
could have tried to continue this effort. Same for me - I *really* want to
hand over the WinCE stuff but where can I go?! How do we make this public
(so people stop bothering me about this stuff ;-) how do we give the person
taking on this task some initial credibility ("yeah, but that is not the
*official* VM").

Incidentally, I know that for instance Michael has considered making some
sort of package repository available. Mike, why don't you tell us why you
haven't done it in the end?!

With respect to complexity, I think the key issue is to understand that
we're mainly talking about an organizational issue here. I disagree with
your trampoline metaphor because it's just not like that for any of the
tasks that I've mentioned we would need a brilliant Smalltalk programmer
with at least twenty years of experience who knows the guts of the Squeak
garbage collector in and out. What we *do* need are a couple of people
dedicating one hour of their time per week to browsing through the messages
and (for the case of an FAQ) write a couple of messages along the lines of
"Hey, I've seen that question, do you think it's worthwhile to put in the
FAQ?! If so, what would be a good place, a good question and the appropriate
answer?" and upon response copy it into the right place. These people need a
place to meet, a place where they can get help, where they can get
credibility from - in short they need something like SqF, which organizes
these things more effectively than Squeak Central has done.

> And reiterating the comment Cees made to me about duplication 
> of effort (posted earlier) there is no reason we can not have
> many people organizing lists, many people making lists and tools,
> and many people making tools, all without much coordination. The
> marketplace of the web will decide among the successes by whose
> work gets used and linked to.

I am uncertain how to interpret this statement. Do you mean the SqF should
*not* aim at being the primary place for people to go when they have
questions about Squeak?! In this case I disagree strongly. I consider a
well-chosen and very visible presence of SqF on the web as crucial for

> Tim's suggestion is the path between and does seem the best of both
> worlds, and again shows why he would be a good choice for "benevolent
> dictator for life". 

I need to say a word about this. In your recent messages you've been
repeatedly advocating Tim as "dictator for life". Besides the phrase (being
a German has its side effects - our last dictator wasn't such a success so
I'd rather opt out of this) I don't like it because it focuses too much on
one single person. It's not that I don't like Tim - we've done a couple of
cool things together and I highly value his work, his personality and his
sense of humor. But at this point I don't like focusing only on one single
person unless there are no alternatives. So how about Cees, how about you or
any other who would be willing to take the job? Please let's see the options
first before focusing.

[BTW, I'd personally think about one of those guys involved with Stable
Squeak - they've shown that they can pull off something, that they can
manage a variety of people working in different places and times. So, John,
are you available?!]

  - Andreas