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An Insight for Promoting Open Source

Brad Jackel of Newsforge writes Promoting OSS: Show, don’t tell.

“The lesson for OSS advocacy that can be drawn from this is that when you are dealing with people who view software as a tool, don’t enthuse about a better tool and expect to be listened to. Rather, show them the better tool in practice in a way that is specifically relevant to the problems that they need to solve by using it. That is, focus on their task, not your technology. Changing from one platform or software package to another then becomes a non-issue, as the focus is the task, not the tool.

People who are focused on IT are used to seeing the possibilities of new features quickly. People who are not focused on IT are not. Simply explaining what tabs do is not enough — users need to be shown specifically how to use them.

It is well worth the time to take the trouble to learn what a given audience does with its computers (and how) and then focus any presentation or advocacy on improving that work. Users will enthusiastically embrace a better tool when they are not just told what it can do, but shown how they will be able to use it.”

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