I was thinking about a follow-up article to “VaporOffice”, to explain why some open source projects have plenty of talented volunteer developers, while others, such as the native Mac port of OpenOffice.org, do not.
Chris Nandor (who contributes prodigiously to Perl, especially Mac-related Perl projects) saved me the effort:
A lot of people put a lot of free time into open source software (including me :-). But the problem is that people do NOT normally put a lot of free time into anything that does not give them direct benefit.
In other words, developers tend to volunteer to write developer software, which is a very different genus than software for normal people.
Also recommended: Steve Crandall’s look at monocultures, from a biological standpoint:
The problem with monocultures is that they are extremely sensitive to attack. Monocultures consist of identical plants with identical defenses. Unlike a diverse stand of plants, a disease or infestation can devastate a monoculture, rendering the entire forest or fields worthless. In a heteroculture, diseases and infestations can be stopped when they don’t have a nearby host to attack — in a monoculture, every adjacent plant is an inviting host, waiting for an attacker to get lucky.