How Can OSS be Made Even Hip(per) & Cool(er)?


Physics can be hip and cool too! This mixed-media work of mine, entitled Semiosis, was inspired by the beautiful equations I worked with while I was studying at the college of engineering. How do we make, OSS, which is essentially, a "work"-based virtual studio, hip and cool? Can school work ever be hip and cool?

From the experience of Twitter and Facebook, the hip and coolness factor appears to depend on how much the interface and peers accentuate and fan users’ egos.

The hippest and coolest thing the developers could do, is to have an OSS App that users can access from their mobile devices, without having to do so through a browser — just like the Facebook or LinkedIn apps. This is because now that users receive instant notifications, the app would facilitate users wishing to respond immediately to comments. Users are connected to their laptops for work, but connected to their mobile devices 24/7. Moreover, hip and cool stuff often blurs the line between work and play, so if the app may just be the tool that could facilitate publishing short messages on OSS — like Tweets.

Oddly, its often the non-work related tweets that up the hip/coolness factor in social media. This is missing in OSS, as users consider it mainly a site for all work and no play.

I wonder if OSS would be more hip/cool, if it were more social media like — in terms of having an app that allows users to simply key in a tweet and publish. The ease and speed of publishing comments on Facebook is what makes its so much more popular than blogspot, which requires so many more buttons to click/tap. Blogspot is a paint to use on a tablet, so I only use it when I have access to my laptop.

OSS now requires quite a fair amount of clicking, so it is best accessed via a physical keyboard. As undergrads are tethered to their smartphones all day, I wonder if OSS is tablet friendly enough for them to simply fish out their iPhones and make quick tweets on OSS, in terms of the number of taps and menus they have to navigate.

This is a technical issue, rather than a teaching and learning one. Whether users will ultimately consider OSS cool, is if their peers and tutor do cool things in their virtual studios — like We are Now(here). Authentic purpose is the key — do I have a compelling reason to log in to OSS and regularly contribute and comment on other students’work– perhaps even after the end of the course/module (just like Facebook)?

I will have to speak to more OSS users to ascertain what drives them to use or avoid OSS, to get a clearer picture of the key issues and concern.