Building a very big town with very small Lego blocks?
[PS. I don't like writing in metaphores, but I hate to write opinions in technical terms. I'm learning ;) ]
I used to have a dream of building a town with very small blocks, so that everyone can visit it, walk thorugh it, admire it, and use it. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one. So why aren't there lots of big cities built of small blocks?
For a start, it takes time. A lot of time. Even a normal sized building would take ages, so it is almost impossible to build a town. So may be, MAY BE, we need some bigger blocks. If possible, instead of a very small blocks, I want to use buildings as building blocks. The problem is, of course, Lego doesn't make prefab buildings, because they want the maximum of variety. And that means it will take centuries to build a city. In the Open Source World (tm) we can fabricate bigger blocks from smaller blocks. And we should.
Secondly, there aren't enough kind of blocks. With Open Source, we have different kinds of prefab fire stations. One of them has lots of firehoses, another one has a hose and a ladder, and a third one has a car and a ladder. In the real world the third one can just borrow a hose from the first one, but with Open Source this is not done very often. Maybe because borrowing code is barred by rational reasons like "not done", "not invented here", or "I didn't know it was there".
Thirdly, there is no suitable "glue" for buildings in our Open Source World (OSW). In the real world, there are roads. But even that takes a lot of buildings blocks. In the OSW however, we would need something like Open Roads Between Applications (ORBA). Maybe it's just me, but ORBA is very little used between current applications. Most of things I've see are roads between a graphical front-end with an invisible application. Now I want to see more communications between graphical programs (and I don't mean graphical shells only). I really want to see a graphical application that can start and moves freely in a graphical text editor. (and if it is already there, please tell me, I want one for joe).
And lastly, other people want prefab cities. I've never heard of people who say they really wanted to change their city, except architects and construction workers. But that doesn't mean that there cannot be towns that can both be very rigid for its inhabitants and very flexible for builders, especially when everyone can have his/her own in our OSW. Having a town with a good school (a part of the core of a program) does not mean that that school cannot be copied to other cities (as a small core application in another application).
To recap, to build a Open Source World of cities, we need cities, roads, big building blocks, and small building blocks. At this moment (2000), we have some small building blocks (see the sourceforge projects), and a few cities (Linux, Apache for example). We still need some larger building blocks, but larger blocks can and should be build from smaller blocks. So, is it bad that everyone is focusing on the small blocks and the big cities?
[PS 2: I still use Delphi to build programs, because it allows me to use medium sized blocks (components), and small sized blocks (c/pascal/scripts) to build fabricated buildings(small generic applications). In future, I do want to use something like that for Linux (can someone help me with this? I don't know what to look for).]