Sunday, July 20, 2008

1.0 Out the door (at university)














When I went out to the US to research the Independent Mac community I was full of high hopes to write about all the experiences that come with the research on this blog. It did not take long to find out that writing blog posts is a form of writing and therefore is subject to all the musing and creative blockages that come with writing. As a result this is the third post on this blog, and it is for announcing the initial results of the research and not about all the questions that occurred while doing the research.

Despite that I am proud to announce that analyzing the interviews, wandering around the Indies' their blog history and working through ‘the shelf’ (all the books that were neccesary to frame the Indie world scientifically, each little sticky is a potential reference) did generate results: it is out the door. The thesis is called: “Indie Fever, The genesis, culture and economy of independent software developers on the Macintosh platform”. The title was inspired by a blogpost from Daniel Jalkut and captures the spirit of the thesis so well that I was unable to come up with a different better title. (I just hope Daniel does not mind).

At this moment a hardcover copy is being reviewed at the university. Tomorrow I will hear whether it is officially accepted and if that is the case (as I suspect), it will be available for download at the beginning of next week.

It was a challenge to give all the perspectives that were revealed in the interviews an appropriate place and I hope the result is something that Indie developers will recognize. But if people disagree on certain aspects I would really appreciate feedback. Tracing back the social non-technical origins of Cocoa and its developer community relies on a lot of (often not written down) stories as do the remarks on Indie culture and there might be angles on those stories out there that I was unable to grasp yet. I think it would be really nice if there are any missing puzzle pieces that a collective feedback effort is able to fill those gaps. Of course it is difficult to give feedback when the actual writing is not yet there, so I will return here to discuss all issues that people can come up with once others get the chance to read the actual thesis. And since I don't have to write a big book anymore (it is 105 pages) I will probably have enough writing energy left to get to them really soon.

3 comments:

Daniel Jalkut said...

Congratulations on finishing! I'm honored that you liked my blog post title and decided to incorporate it into the thesis title.

Jonathan said...

Your bookcase looks almost identical to mine - some of the same books, lots of bookmarks. Maybe there's a project in there somewhere: Bookcases of academics...

Just to let you know I've blogged about your paper at:
http://jonathanbaldwin.blogspot.com
and
http://design-cultures.blogspot.com

Like I say in my post, I think the areas you cover have wider application to the design field and also pedagogy - I teach design and am frustrated that the way we do this individualises students when they should be collaborating. This is true even in programming and interactive design, so seemingly contradicts the experiences of indie developers.
Quickly browsing through the paper I didn't see any mention of this so wonder if it came up in your interviews?

Angela McRobbie, studying fashion designers in 'British Fashion Design' (good book) points out, using Bourdieu, that the successful designers made use of the social and cultural capital they acquired at uni, despite the individualising process, more than they used the 'skills' the course thought it was teaching them...

Michiel van Meeteren said...

@ Jonathan

I plan to leave a more extensive response on your own post later. But just to have an opportunity to have discussion here as well. I do not know the exact details for other cultural industries apart from Indies and the music industry, in which I worked for a few years. Your remarks about the fashion designers sound a lot like the experiences I have in the music industry. In short that experience comes down to (nuance disclaimer in place): In your education you form your own 'in-group' , acquire the capital, and that is what (if you are both lucky and good) takes you to success. I think the main difference with Indies is the fact that they have the tendency to approve newcomers to the in-group after people have established themselves (the issues that are dealt with in chapter 4.1-4.3 of the thesis). Globally there are a few reasons why the Indies do not individualize that much: Indies really have the feeling that contributing to the collective benefits them in the long run. It is a common sense thing to do. The thesis states a few reasons why this trust culture is there (the genesis of the community, 'apple innovation ideal etc'). But another supplementary explanation which is a contrast with the design world might be that they all learn their profession in practice. You do not become a Cocoa programmer in school, and therefore there is no peer group related to a graduation year or anything. In the absence of that there might be a stronger incentive to form a peer group later on when you already are an entrepreneur. This is just thinking out of the box right now, but it is an interesting contrast.