Attracting that One Percent


If the open source community is actually being provided for by 1% of the crowd, then the organizers behind the Jahshaka real-time editing community have more than their fair share. I’ve mentioned Jahshaka before when the community was voting on designs for the application’s interface (reLink), and now they’re voting on startup screens (Link). How can this application not be a success with such excellent community support?

This gets me to thinking. When I stop to consider all the different open source projects of which I’m aware, there are usually only one or two exceptional efforts per category. For example, if I were to say “open source 3D”, most 3D people would answer “Blender“. If I were to say “open source 2D imaging”, most people would answer “Gimp“.

You’d think there would be many excellent offerings out there and that variety would be the order of the day. But I don’t find that to be the case. The cream rises to the top. And this attracts more talent; the best chefs.

It’s like there’s a natural Long Tail even in open source, and the popular apps are the one’s that have gotten over that invisible barrier in the LT curve – the one I kept seeing and which had me thinking of state change graphs (for more about what I mean, you can read an old interview I did over on New World Notes – Link).

This jives with what’s happening with so-called Web 2.0 applications like YouTube where everything starts off free until the registration gets added and the options vanish if you don’t register. And then of course the ads start to creep in. They’re all gunning for critical mass to get over that hump… to attract the others who will propel the application or project forward to mass acceptance and success.

I’m wondering if the open source Croquet Project will be able to overcome this hurdle. When I visit the site, there’s little of note. No community. No links to projects. Nothing. If they wanted to kill the effort, they’re certainly doing a good job at the moment. Someone apparently needs to remind them that it’s not enough to have a good product. Sony famously learned that with BetaMax. You need community. Jahshaka has it. The Croquet Project doesn’t.

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2 thoughts on “Attracting that One Percent

  1. The band wagon of web 2.o may have some bad boys yet still in totality is spurns oppertunituies for individuals as well as 2-3 people getting together on an idea. Such services are hauted by compatibility issues however opensource provides a way to wriggle out of this apparent gloom. ZYB ( is one of the new betas, offering backup for calendar and contacts with a flair of social networking i.e. oppertunity to share contact lists and calendars. With google buying off some of the new entrants in time this domain seems rich and wide :)

  2. …however opensource provides a way to wriggle out of this apparent gloom.

    Agree. But I’m not sure it will. Just because people can, doesn’t mean they will… even for the successful apps like Gimp and Blender (both of which have longstanding UI issues last I checked). It almost seems as if open source is destined to be long-term development. And I attribute that partly to the fact that some of those 1% on working on other projects – either other opensource efforts or their own.

    It’s a tough nut, but wrt Croquet, they could at least get the nucleus of a real community started. At this point it seems like the people working on it are academians who are working behind cloistered walls and posting PDF’s that most people will probably not find.

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