The Crypton project is the first software project I’ve had in a long time where I wanted to use the software even more than I wanted to write it. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying writing it, it’s kind of fascinating, but I’m really looking forward to using it.
I think that’s the key to any great product, that it’s created by people who are actually going to use it. I don’t think that this guarantees that the product will be great, but I think the opposite (products created by people who will never use them) are almost always less than great at best.
Capitalists are very keen to point out the value of identifying the audience for a product before investing too much in its development, but I think this misses the mark. Their concern isn’t with pleasing an audience, but simply taking their money. What I’m talking about meets that requirement, but goes further by providing the audience with something they actually want as well as something that meets their needs, because they participated in creating it.
In the case of Crypton it works out conveniently that someone who wants to use it happens to be someone who can build it as well, and I think this is often the case for many great products. However this limits the range of products to ones used by people who might be able to make them, and by definition that leaves a lot of people unserved.
What’s needed is a methodology which cultivates products via their end-users, somehow “mixing-in” the people necessary to bring the product into the world while maintaining continuity with the users wants and needs. Attempts have been made at this but all the ones I’m familiar with prioritize something other than the user in the process (cost, profit, marketability, etc.).
What is needed is a process which is capable of creating a product with the same level of quality it would have if created by one of its users.