it's interesting to see people picking up the "kde4: hype-or-revolution" story in the media, including some even mainstream-ish sources. i'm not going to go off (or on?) about the details of how kde4 is and will be a revolution. many of us have done a good and exhaustive job of that already and continue to do so. if you are reading this blog, you probably already know all about it.
instead i'm going to go on (or off?) about the idea of success and revolutionary events.
most people have no idea what success takes, looks like or have been a part of one that was bigger than a personally meaningful event (and many have even yet to achieve that). most people's idea of what a major success and/or a revolution looks like has been formed by story books and hollywood-esque movies. what most people don't really understand is that the popular story is a simplification.
the popular story goes something like this: "someone had an idea, they put their all into it and it worked. great rejoicing and riches were to be had, perhaps after one or two nail biting moments of tension." unfortunately the popular story is crafted to be interesting to people as entertainment. the reality is somewhat different.
every major success (let alone revolution), be it a political, economic or social one, started with an idea and then people putting years, sometimes decades, of effort into it. when a music star "explodes onto the scene" the reality is that there are literally years of effort prior to that, most likely sacrificing a lot of "normal" life things to tour around the countryside playing in unglamorous spots for small crowds of people who didn't know them, didn't care about them. ditto for other sorts of success, such as business successes.
but that's a discouraging and boring tale. so it gets hidden and all most people see is "new meg-star!" and "new awesome product!". here's where open projects go very, very differently:
we couldn't hide the necessary years of effort that lead up to the moment of "instant success" or "revolution" if we tried to. we wouldn't be an open project then. everyone gets to see every painful, annoying, rewarding, troubling, enjoyable, fun and boring moment along the way.
and so people wonder, "will kde 4.0 be a revolution?" and people get their panties all up in a knot over the issue while asking the wrong question. (a correct question might be "will kde4 amount to a revolution?")
the answer to the incorrect question is: of course 4.0 won't be a revolution. it's a step towards the "instant success" that one day will be all that most people will remember. 4.0 is a necessary, unavoidable and critical point in our efforts towards reaching that success, in creating the revolution. the role of the dot-oh release in that has never been in doubt in my mind: it's an interesting step, but not the the interesting step people will identify as "the revolution".
now, we can't skip 4.0 anymore than a runner can skip running the the 3rd kilometer in a marathon. we can't delay 4.0 since that wouldn't delay anything but the time when we arrive at the mythical moment of "instant success". so 4.0 will come out and will be a part of the success that one day people will look back upon and understand, incorrectly, as a single event (kde4) much as people look back at kde3 as a single event (and forget the direct role of kde2 and the more indirect role of kde1 in it, let alone what 3.0 was for 3.5).
but mark my words: kde4 is a revolution unfolding and you're getting to watch it all happen from the very beginning. this is apparently something so rare and out of the ordinary experience for most people that many can't even properly identify what they are watching happen (the process of revolution rather than a point-in-time-and-space product called revolution).
going back to the musician anology: we're all getting to be one of those people who knew jimmy from high school before he was a rock star, who went to his first concert back in his home town, who was a roadie with him on his first tours and maybe even you get to be one of the people who plays in the band or writes some of the music. you get to decide and that's cool.