Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back in Amsterdam with luxurious problems

It has been almost more then a month since we arrived back in Amsterdam from our US fieldtrip and supplying the indie community with some information on the research progress is at least a bit overdue. To start: the US tour has been overwhelmingly successful. We came home with 16 interviews with a total length of almost 50 hours. I’m deeply grateful for the amount of commitment that the indie mac community has shown to tell their story. All the people we interviewed took a great effort to make clear to us what being an indie mac developer means and the results look very promising. Practicing social science isn’t usually that ‘easy’. Mac indie programmers are self-employed; they run a software business, and business usually means that time is money. The fact that so many indies took whole mornings and afternoons off to talk to us is already one commonality that says something about the sort of people that do this work.

This did imply that doing the interviews was a lot more demanding than I expected. And doing 16 of them in three weeks did leave me rather exhausted. Moreover I took some time to reflect on everything I heard, seen and felt and I first had to solve puzzles in my head about what would be the ideal way to convert the huge amount of information I had gathered into a good scientific story. 50 hours of interviews means over 700 pages of interview transcripts and my typing skills are put to the test. It also takes much more time then I expected: transcribing a single interview takes days. But despite that I am really pleased to announce that the first transcripts will go back to the interviewees this weekend for review. Transcribing them is an intensive and interesting experience: learning why people do what they do, feel their motivations and passion and see the effects. It is something that is often undervalued in economic science and showing that perspective without losing the bigger picture is one of the big challenges I have been crunching my brain about. But the availability of such a rich data set is a luxurious position to be in as a social scientist.

Another luxury that has been ‘bothering’ me is the potential influence of the Iphone SDK on the Mac indie developer community. It would be scientifically a really interesting thing to do to get a quantitative survey out as soon as possible to be able to measure the long-term effects of it, but that would completely mess up my research schedule. At this moment I am trying to convince the university to broaden the scope of the research to include these developments and give the research project a 2.5 years perspective.

What all of this comes down to is a bit more patience. I’ll try to keep this blog updated more often from now on, and include some reflections on the scientific approach I intent to use. Until that it’s just bathing in the luxurious inconvenience of having a research subject that is interesting but evolving faster then one man can research it.


Cathy said...

It will be interesting to see how iPhone development will effect indies - since they can't take an "indie" approach to sales and distribution of iPhone apps.

Can't wait to hear more about your research, it's a fascinating topic.

Koen said...

He Michiel!
Leuk om te lezen dat het zo goed gaat!
Kom je ook nog wel eens op de uva?
Veel succes en maak er wat moois wan :)