Yes. Very important to acknowledge platform context in this discussion.I can click away with the best of them on a desktop platform but recognize that if someone is driving the app with a drawing tablet connected to a desktop/laptop platform, there might be more efficient work flows. I don’t envy folks who have to refactor all their technology for so many platforms.
Regardless of how input, command and control gets to whatever platform, I believe we are reaching a point where access to information on features, workflow, and UX might require a different response from Glowforge. Why am I thinking of this? Concern over FUD from those awaiting shipping information emails and forum engagement. I understand that there are regular updates and explanations available on the forum and on occasions even pushed out. That information is in a fairly limited format and requires interpretation, but it is a good change in culture.
I’ve been thinking of starting a new topic, Documentation as Armaments: information as the sword for and the shield against disruption The half millennium anniversary of the Reformation should be an occasion for everyone to reflect on history and learn a bit about what drives disruption and transformation. Martin Luther posted his theses on All Hallows’ Eve for a reason and this time of the year and especially this milestone, is a great opportunity.
The Reformation was about the control of information as much as anything. New information technology took control from the priests and gave it to anyone who could afford to learn how to read and have books. As the priest of the institution that tried in vain to keep exclusive rights to the information, ostensibly for the good of the institution, I can attest that while it survived, it hasn’t quite yet recovered and indeed is still fighting the same battle…
Glowforge has the information. Many who have paid to have access to that information, do not have what they have paid for. That seems like a rational move by the institution for several reasons: 1. scarce resources are competing. Giving the customer information does not benefit the short term goals of the company, which is building out the laser. It isn’t that there is a complete silo here. Glowforge has sponsored and supported this forum and have their community engagement at Maker Faires and the pre-release and to some degree the beta programs. 2. This makes sense too from a company preservation standpoint: the more information Glowforge gives out, the easier it makes for competitors to take that information and beat them to the market. It is entirely rational for the company to not publish an indexed and cross-reference manual up till now if only from this point of view. Sure, competition will figure out a way to have access to that information, but it is extremely important for a corporation to control its information and not appear negligent. I can endorse this position and even cooperate (collude, as some would say) since in the long run, I have calculated that what’s good for Glowforge in the long run will be good for me. One other indication that Glowforge is willing to share information, but still want to keep a tight control on it, is the Problems and Support category. Hey, the dirty laundry is there to see. But it remains in the basket and gets dumped in the washer before we can double check just where the dirt is and what kind of detergent gets it cleaned.
Every institution is faced with a continued dilemma: how to control information (and the identity signals that it creates) for the long term fitness of the group and attend to the necessary disruption that takes place when information is appropriated by each member of the group. Read some discussions on the role information plays in the epidemiology of self-harm. What is institutional preservation, what is paternalism, and what is ultimately the self-interest of the institution’s leaders?
Should an institution ever grant absolute freedom to its members in terms of the information that it holds? It’s mighty risky. But there are amazing examples of community well-being and health that have found ways to control information in ways that avoid hierarchical structures. It’s hard though to avoid the freeloader problem and even harder to stop members from abandoning the group and taking the best toys with them.
My question is this: at what point does the uncertainty about the state of feature development become more of a detriment to the cause than a protection against bad actors and safeguarding resources?
I don’t know what Glowforge really owes those who await delivery of their machines. That’s an ethical question and might best be debated in another forum, but is a fair enough question at the moment. I don’t know to what extent Glowforge needs to pull resources from other areas and attend to those ready to jump ship. That the the scales are tipped toward Glowforge’s benefit by keeping the cards close, and will continue to be so, seems evident from the delivery of the information about no go zones for international shipping.
Not that Glowforge has not been going above and beyond lip service to customer relations. There have been perks. There have been changes in the style of information management.
Ultimately, Glowforge has made their lasers accessible to a great number of people who have ordered them. Sharing the GFUI with sub accounts is not just a way to manage schools and maker spaces. It is a demonstration of risk taking when sharing information. They allowed the platform to roll out for this. In the end it is up to the users to make it an asset for others. Glowforge appears to be acting altruistically here. One person pays for access with purchase, and the others can free-load on the service. This is a significant thing here that should be celebrated. I had to pay $50 just to load my own files to the UX running my Silhouette cutter. I can only load on three machines. I can’t run my Silhouette from my iPad unless its some remote desktop app. With my Glowforge, I don’t pay to add extra users, I don’t pay to add extra platforms (regardless of how well-developed mobile platforms are). I don’t pay to add extra features when they roll out (at the moment). In many ways I think the nature of their UX and the cloud computing basis of the enterprise acknowledges that they are willing to integrate the customer’s needs and adapt as time goes on. Yes, in some cases, cloud computing is a signal that the company wants greater control of the information, but in this case, I think Glowforge is really signaling that they get this information control thing and they should integrate customer focus throughout the enterprise. It’s not done yet, and it is an ambivalent signal, but that’s how I read it.
So where does that lead us? I could just ignore the rest of the folks who have ordered a Glowforge and go on my merry way. I don’t believe that is in my best interest. I need this community to enhance my experience. I am willing to share information because the folks who participate most in this forum are by and large value-adding contributors and have demonstrated over and over that reciprocity in information sharing is a very powerful and disruptive thing. Disruptive in that it over and over incrementally betters the state of my experience.
So I guess for everyone then, what is the most efficient, productive and self-sustaining method of information procurement on this forum? All’s I can say is that in the end, procurement of information requires the one who seeks it to work harder than the one who has it. Perhaps the best way to get information on this forum is to signal first that you have done the hard work necessary to earn the information that has been gathered by the community. What Glowforge owes anyone, well that’s what I was trying to ponder. What do I owe anyone? Absolutely nothing, unless by engagement I find some type of payoff for me. I’ll play the game gladly if someone gives me honest signals that they know the rules of efficient and effective communication and are willing to play by them.