Just to throw a curveball, I think the mice besides the elephant is not only the question of whether someone can carry the torch but whether open source can synch itself with the necessity of the volunteers.
Sustainability is good IF it attracts enough buzz which in turn attracts enough supporters but I think long term, we are more apt to see people strive to learn and aim to support something they perceive as necessity rather than sustainable.
And the one good thing about consumerism is that it tricks the mind into making non-necessary concepts into emotional necessities. That's why one is more likely to spot and acquire emulators for old games and consoles than they are to acquire old ports of old non-gaming programs. We could even extend it to mods and add-ons. Barring browsers, most (even those with plugin supported programs) lose to the buzz and sweet taste of a new user interface program where as games can last for longer generations with the existence of mods. Of course at the same time, videogames lose far more hype and short term usage to things such as sequels and copycat games.
On the issue of money, I think it's more important to insert fiat currency when comparing it with time in this context. That is to say, instead of asking whether there is free lunch, it's better to ask it from the perspective of how your lunch is paid because as both fiat currency and time can attest, both values shift depending on timing, corruption creating distrust, update model, etc.
This in turn makes it necessary for a developer to gather enough support to create an "identity" (a circle of loyal pseudo-guaranteed contributors) before people lose interest or before potential contributors perceive it as old or a flawed model. What this means is that the author is partly correct. By focusing on monetary concerns, you increase the chance of viewing it like a business in which there's a higher potential of loss, disillusion, etc. from setting that path than self-fulfillment unless one develops manic obsession for their products.
At the same time, it's not really money or making a living that drives people to create something. It's really a mix of many things from ego, to compulsion, to art, to curiosity, to capability, to ease, to desire for improvement, to keys to learning, etc. Many partially born out to be made rather than sustainable. Even more becoming popular because of a perceived pseudo-necessity that flutter out. (Digital to-do lists for example where people search for them but few are really in search for them which causes old to-do list services to never make people switch to newer to-do list services unless a new criteria like the surge in Androids and Iphones enter the equation and even then, it's not always a switch to a superior service.)
...but the above IMO is unhelpful. I'm only throwing a pebble to what I perceive as thoughts that maybe the speakers are not considering though I don't consider myself more informed or smarter than they are.
Instead my own opinion of the matter (and I apologize if I switch to a vanity voice wherein I come off talking to myself) is that dumb users shouldn't be free users.(I'm trying to snip some of the things I've written in my draft for my blog on productivity and I apologize if the below overlaps with that subject)
The worst regression however is the lack of defense against the glorification of tools.
While more talented people can afford being trapped in these elements of aesthetics that may hamper them from getting “it” but could potentially boost their productivity by making them slightly more motivated, untalented people while receiving the same benefits are also exposed to the more harmful rays of mindset morphing. One that creates a deadly unproductivity filter on top of every productivity system they have.
And those rays involve being led to rely on your productivity system – even when said systems are based around more bland objects like ordinary notebooks.
There’s really no one way to detect this decay but even talented productivity system users get a whiff of this layer from time to time.
At the most obvious and often mentioned level, you will often read about people preferring paper to software because they couldn’t bring the software to work or people who couldn’t afford shelling out cash for filing cabinets opting to use slimmer alternatives.
What is rarely mentioned are the deeper, more subtle, more long term versions of this event.
Just as so called “mystical” martial arts gain wide spread hype only to fall back into obscurity once they’ve been debunked as flawed or fake, the best short term successful concepts of productivity systems are often shared and known by almost everybody who pretty much skim productivity blogs on a regular basis – however the consequences from flawed productivity systems and the victims who fail to make those productivity systems work are rarely mentioned in detail ever again.
The warning systems are simply rarely discussed outside of the occasional experiment on how positive words actually make things worse for negative people or how stating your goals out loud to acquaintances severely reduces the chance of you accomplishing them.
For this particular topic, the warning systems are worse for cloud services because often times even if you can view the number of members without knowledge of any web analytics, you never know when you are truly early or truly late to a service.
You are also never protected from being there just at the right time as pinboard attests to with popular services. What the writer omits is that pinboard is an exception not a rule. Pinboard's circumstances makes paying a feature. An additional backup security feature to be precise. The thing with these kind of circumstance is that it needs "existence".
Existence being members who understand what they are paying for. Services with a reputation. Concepts that over time because of the decay of other concepts gives value to the price that a certain service is offering. Basically it's like any concept in the real world. New product that you can't associate with? Consumer doubt. New product that you can and who has a more stable brand? Consumer purchase.
The problem here is that even stable services change and stagnate. Once they stagnate, the only real question is whether the service is in the pendulum swinging towards users leaving your site or users staying with your site. It is somewhat worse with desktop. Users staying with desktop tools rarely talk about them after a certain point. This cuts off newbie internet users. Cloud services on the other hand create this mystique. This "exclusive" club. That makes pinboard's situation extra-special.This wouldn’t be horrible if it wasn’t for the fact that untalented people are basically being trained to ease their learned helplessness by replacing it via relying on methods that if they fail, would just leave another layer of learned helplessness on top of a set of additional crippling situations.
For productivity, I was trying to phrase app's situation in a more general manner.
For desktop tools and cloud services though, it applies more towards how you deal with which service you are shelling out cash to.
Basically it's stupid to teach people to demand a free service to become paid for so that it guarantees that the service will stay. It's a con strategy. The users don't actually gain any literacy to which service will last which service will not. Even the article pretty much admits you have to possess insight into the business model mindset of the maker.
This doesn't mean the author has malicious intentions but they're writing from the hindsight that certain cherry picked competitors failed and they're omitting to provide the detail for why they...managed to use your money correctly
.I sort of labelled this process as "crippled thought process" as can be seen in my copy paste below but it expands towards productivity so just skip it if you don't like reading:
What is even worse (besides the fact that productivity experimenters are rarely handed a way to reverse their mindset in case of failure) is the fact that helplessness isn’t even the worst case effect.
Rather crippled thought process is. I don’t mean to make this sound so horrible but put yourself in a situation where…you start to have an idea (maybe something you should do) and suddenly a wall covers that idea. Not a mental block but a thought habit that tells you that you should write this down.
The habit itself is good but what if by repeatedly going through that habit, you can’t filter out what your brain wants to keep? (including expanding on that thought before writing things down.)
It’s not a set in stone mindset but it can almost feel that way for an untalented person because they are not only juggling with which notebook to write things down but if the system is a flawed method: it’s not a simple case of shrugging off the idea, regaining your self-esteem by achieving something and then moving on.
You’re basically trapped in a mindset where you have to consistently remind your brain that something like a to-do list doesn’t work so you should immediately drop off on making a to-do list for that idea and then reminding yourself that your list that includes such minor things as your grocery list doesn’t have the weight of your dreams behind it and that you can actually do the items underneath them. They don’t need to be further made actionable, they don’t need to have icons and symbols, they don’t need to be put in context – most importantly, they don’t need to be put on paper.
That last part is the most important because one of the more revolutionary aspects of Getting Things Done is this context of @ and even today it’s so under-mentioned that you could be forgiven to think that it’s just a similar generic “visual” symbol like all the others or even misinterpret the idea of contexts (in GTD terms) for categories (like the folders in your Windows Operating System).
In actuality, @ at least attempts to address the issue of un-sticking your mindset from the letters in your to-do list. It’s flawed in that you are not only suppose to rely even more on your to-do list but you have to bring that to-do list with you whenever you go into a certain place and review that list on that exact place so that you can be reminded best of everything you need to accomplish in that place and only in that place.
In practice, this only works so well if you can train yourself to have a to-do list for each set of location and individual. A sort of social and geographic contemplation on top of a normal date based reminder. All of course being written and reviewed within the GTD system and being recorded on a portable object be it paper or mobile.
Untalented people though need more.
Just as karate may work well in a street fight if you have reached an elite level of combat superiority versus your opponent but at the same time fail more often than not if you are just slightly inferior in skill to the elites, the methodology of going beyond mere folders and tree lists are only notable in that it can bring you closer to getting “it” rather than being tricked into the same old way of making to-do lists but with a newer set of paint behind utilizing one.
Fortunately and unfortunately for untalented people, reaching this realization isn’t enough to make for a productive system. Unfortunate because even with this insufficiency, it’s still something that can help get you closer to improving your own understanding of productivity if only it was mentioned and clarified more rather than being shoe horned into a generic symbol in front of any type of system that claims to host GTD within it. (The most common of course are to-do list software and to-do list users who just recommend adding @ in the beginning of every category.)
Why do I say it is insufficient?
First off, it assumes you can always plan ahead and make to-do lists for most areas and entities. However not all people are salesmen or territory managers that have a predefined list of people that they have to deal with.
More importantly however is that even if this were the case …the untalented individual cannot pull this off.
The untalented individual is often distracted like an unathletic karate newbie enrolled in a mcdojo. For one thing, they are not sure they are being taught correctly. However, they are also not sure they know what the correct manner of teaching is. Worse, their doubts may not be fully answered when they see more athletic students pull things through.
It takes not only a paradigm shift but near to the best training staff mixed with great personnel chemistry to turn the untalented individual into a real bonafide well aware fighter. Even then there is no guarantee that the individual would be a successful street inhabitant versus merely becoming a point fighter or a self-defender that can protect you from the average thug but would be useless in a boxer rebellion type of defense.
This is the reality for untalented people. There’s a good chance that determination will merely glue them to something that is perceived as success maybe even one of a kind – but there’s an even greater chance that despite all this they are simply setting the superior slave drivers to reaching new heights. Sort of like a more complex and accidentally formed outsourcing sum effect only with the guarantee that the untalented will never reach the same success level of the best even if they defy all odds. (Although this isn’t to mean that the untalented cannot reach the level of the elites especially those untalented who strive the hardest with the most flexible approach whom address problems in a most deliberate manner.)
Mixing Productivity Martial Arts
Therefore what a productivity system aimed at an untalented individual needs to achieve is first create the same stem of relying on their paper or software (or something else) and then destroying that link while retaining the fundamentals of that system.
Like the goal of becoming a GTD black belt in which an individual is supposed to be able to subconsciously apply GTD into everything including every context of every problematic situation, the goal for an untalented productivity system is to hold those elements but assume the wielder will do something to ruin those elements.
It could be anything from:
- losing your todo list
- forgetting to print out your tasks
- being afraid to look at your list
- over-stuffing your unfinished tasks
- leaving all your items disorganized
- procrastinating on your system
- being paralyzed by all the failed tasks on your list
…all these elements though have to be united under a formal system. Otherwise, it’s simply becomes a case of one guy motivating the untalented guy but converted into a manifesto. To me, an untalented person can be inspired to become a hero, a 4 hour work week guy, a successful executor and even a guy that wakes up productive but eventually things will catch up to him and once the issues return and reality falls back on him: it’s not just back to the drawing board, it’s becoming re-trapped only in a more distracting cage.
The untalented person has to accept that he will lose all. He also has to accept that he simply can’t adapt well to the events otherwise he would already have.
Even if the untalented individual denies this, the system at least has to factor this.
Reverse backup: The idea that you will lose everything eventually so before you lose everything the things you need to gain most are not ones that add to your life but add to your life once it has crumbled and even after that, it should still continue to help you.
Some would argue that the above is just unnecessarily lengthening the advise of putting your eggs in more than one basket but I would argue that the advise is flawed in the same way that a person not versed in stocks could not just turn a guaranteed profit from trading and extend that to: stock traders don't necessarily save the planet so despite their competitive advantage, they're not really producing sustainability nor necessity. They're just trading sustainability within their own circles. The circle just happened to be large and Earth just happened to still hang on for dear life.
My answer however is an oxymoron. Just because dumb users shouldn't be free users doesn't mean it's not the more ignorant users who are the majority of the users of free tools but that the victims of those pain from services dropping out are often times also users who did not strive to look if their data can be backed up or has been backed up into the latest revision.
At the same time, as the last paragraph of that quote shows, I'm also yielding to the idea that it's not possible. Unless you have enough money to save a service and beat out other investors, your money has no value. If you are part of an immoral culture, they would take your money and then sell their service anyway if the price is right or the opportunity is ripe. Open source may help carry the torch but as technology improves such as cloud services, it's going to take more than the source. Sometimes you have yield the domain or the building or the staff.
In the end, this is just the structure of nature. At the price of increased survivability and pleasure compared to other species, dumb user have to pay the price for being in a constant cycle of samsara until they get burned enough and develop actions to go around this. Course I don't mean to sound pessimistic. We're living in an age where it's not your intelligence that matters but your resources. I'm sure those born from a richer country who used and lost some free services didn't all end up being alcoholics as if they've just all lost their wives to a man with a larger penis. The problem lies mostly with the contradictions in the context of the two intentions.
It is in the pinboard's writers' bias to make pinboard come off better than the competition.
On the other hand, mouser (and I assume all of us talking about it here) are in the bias of taking the article's intent literally and this being donationcoder we're all invested in software sustainability in some way and we end up making the article to be more than it is because it contains keywords that matches some of our own goals and intentions. At some point, we have to concede though that the conclusion we can gain from this article may not be as helpful or enlightening as we originally hoped.