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OpenUsability.org

Philip van Hoof brought OpenUsability.org to my attention again this week. It's a project aiming to bring open source developers and usability experts together, and that can only be a Good Thing.

I actually signed up there over a year ago, though, and unfortunately it's not really scratching my particular itch. (Or, perhaps more accurately, as I'm on the usability side of things, it's not making it very easy for me to scratch anyone else's). Without any mailing list or RSS feeds to let you know what everybody is up to, you really have to join one of the dozens of projects that have signed up, at which point you can elect to receive email notifications when somebody posts in one of the project-specific web forums.

For me, though, one of the main problems with open source software usability is that there's no proven, repeatable, successful method to achieve good results1. So with different usability folks (for those lucky enough to have any at all) working on every OSS project doing their best to adapt standard usability techniques to the open source field, the results are patchy. Unfortunately, with no cross-project discussion areas or other useful means (i.e. not the pain that is web forums!) to monitor everyone's successes and failures in the participating projects, I don't think OpenUsability.org is quite ready yet to be the place that such an approach is fostered. But I'll certainly be keeping my eye on it.

1Okay, you could say the same about usability generally, but certainly not to the same extent.

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I am an Interaction Designer in the Systems Experience Design team, arriving at Oracle via Sun where I've worked since 2000. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.

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