inessential by Brent Simmons

Response to Sharecropper metaphor

I like Tim Bray and Robb Beal—but I don’t like the sharecropper metaphor they use to describe developers who write apps for specific operating systems.

Me, I write Web-related desktop apps for OS X. Because:

1. I like the Web.

2. I like desktop apps.

3. I like OS X.

I’m not unobservant, though—I know the operating system vendor has a great deal of power. And that the relationship between OS vendor and developer is a symbiotic relationship.

However, to think of myself as a sharecropper would be to insult myself and what I do.

Sharecropper implies a level of poverty, captivity, and hopelessness that’s not remotely applicable. I make money from NetNewsWire sales. I’m smart, skilled, and nimble—if I want to or need to come up with a new app or switch to a different OS, I will. I’m not stuck with a single square patch of dirt.

I love doing what I’m doing: I love writing Web-related desktop apps for OS X. But, more than that, I love writing software that people like.

The metaphor I use is the metaphor of dinosaurs and the early mammals. The dinosaurs were slow and heavy. The mammals had to watch out where the dinosaurs stepped. The dinosaurs probably didn’t even notice most of the time when they stepped on a mammal.

But then the mammals ate dinosaur eggs. They were faster and smarter. And the mammals survived quite well.