Adoption: Show, don't tell vs. If you build it, will they come?

In this topic some thoughts on technology adoption. A tangent that interests me around the dynamics in grassroots movements.

Background: Yesterday @sneakers-the-rat announced how they’ll intend to “Fetch All Replies” in Fediverse microblogging / discussion threads, and @bkil sharing on chat how Friendica already does this since 2010:

Someone mentioned this post on Matrix, I checked it on Friendica and it automatically fetches all replies and shows it as a comment thread. Welcome to technology from 2010 I guess, or maybe I have overlooked part of the original problem statement?

I’ve spent a great deal of time "weaving in public’ that also involved a lot of showing other people to the work of Mike MacGirvin. And there’s always also been a very passionate group of advocates on the Friendica up-to Streams line of projects saying “Hey, this exists for a long time, folks”. Mike did not have good experience in the early W3C-related groups. I wasn’t around then, but the group dynamics weren’t great to say the least. I’ve heard Mike often express himself very bitterly about ‘the ecosystem’ ignoring so much of his work.

Now, I can speculate on the reasons and come up with a whole bunch of thoughts why that is. But I won’t. Not on the particular case. I am interested in the general mechanics. In a way what Mike experienced isn’t all that different than what SocialHub/SocialCG faced too: “Hey, look at these opportunities and what we can do together to rapidly evolve the specs / ecosystem” → :cricket: crickets.

In grassroots movements, both “Show, don’t tell” and “Let’s collab, be strong together” don’t live up to general expectations in ways that desillusion the people who are involved. This is esp. true in an ecosystem that tries to evolve a technology standard, like AS/AP or more broadly the Social Web. But it is also true in FOSS movement, where many folks build projects where eventual adoption is the key to success… and yet it does not come (and they give up / burn out).

“Show, don’t tell” is merely a tool

This intrigues me a lot. I don’t have a clear-cut answer, and things depend on many factors anyway. On the whole I see “Show, don’t tell” as just a tool in the toolbox. If it is just a hammer, then it is not enough to build a house with.

I also note that both Mike - with Streams et al - and also @dansup - with the growing Pixelfed ecosystem - do have great success with “Show, don’t tell”.

This ‘simply’ by persevering and continuously building out on top of a foundation and framework stack where they are in control of its direction. You forge and shape your own ecosystem that way, and still stay in control of many aspects that would hold other, more broadly positioned efforts back.

Like having to deal with “design-by-consensus” stuff which the folks in SocialCG have to deal with, and that drags anything into long discussions. This dynamic is why I gave up on trying to turn SocialHub into a community-of-action and just be content if people used it as more casual discussion forum + do-ocracy.

In that regard I think the FEP process is great. It allows anyone to drop of a: “This is how I do it. Take it or leave it” in a process that encourages others to “take it”. Esp. when the process if further improved.

FSDL Adoption toolbox

In summary I’d leave this now with the observation that if Adoption is key to FOSS project’s success:

:point_right:  “Show, don’t tell” is just one tool. Many FOSS projects need more tools from the FSDL toolbox.

It’d be interesting to consider the concept of “Technology adopton” in more depth and tie it to strategies and processes of the FSDL to follow for your particular project.