Developers and Researchers,
Thank you for giving me a few moments to share these ideas. I am so very excited about the possibilities of a small script or executable that might monitor and collect anonymous data, under restricted conditions, as an opt-in during the platform installer or upgrade process.
The objectives that I have in opening this thread are broad and open to formative change moving forward. However, my final objective is simply to obtain data on usage. There would be many benefits of this data, particularly if it was publicly available and published on this website. But, before I get into the details of those sweet rewards, allow me to assuage some inevitable concerns, and provide some context first.
I am NOT a spamming marketer. I am a researcher, and passionate advocate of this platform and community. We need to organize and leverage the power of this community. That will never be possible unless we have solid evidence of usage statistics (more than just the number of registered accounts, or click-thru of these webpages).
I do not personally know John Haller or even the mods for these forums, but I feel confident that if given the opportunity I could make a very strong case for keeping these statistics open and available to our community. The risks and opportunity costs to potential revenue streams would be negligible because of the unique business model being used here.
Additionally, I feel confident that if the community were given a very readable, clear, and SHORT statement promising their privacy and the anonymity of any data that is collected, along with a list of the benefits, then compliance would be far greater than for most typical platforms. TRUST is often the central issue with compliance.
Thus, without further ado, please join me in a conversation here, so that we might flesh out some plans, or attempt to gather our ideas. If all you wish to do is to correct my misguided passionate pleas, that if of course perfectly legitimate as well, and I appreciate any and all feedback. Before I bring any plans or formal requests to the leadership of this community, I want to ensure that I have considered as many perspectives as possible, including those who will dissent based on the obvious concerns with privacy that many patrons here have (what drove them to use this platform in the first place, in some cases).
Finally, let me explain just a few of the benefits of gathering and sharing this data. For those who would drool over the possibility of having this data, it would potentially JUSTIFY our hypotheses, and vocal opinions regarding the interests and behaviors of a large section of computer users, or at the very least, resolve many of our questions, which currently represent a barrier to possible grants and funding for various research programs and ongoing experimental studies. Our career success often depends on our unique ability to extract or untangle such data, and to successfully interpret it when we get it.
But for the end-users themselves, as well as many of those who are interested in further development (and long-range plans) for this platform, the benefits might even be greater. There are many investors who refuse to step forward and risk significant funding for new startup without solid business plans, which have been well researched and provide evidence of demand. Side industries are inevitable, but will bloom much sooner, if this data is available.
Even for those who have no interest in research data, or in possible entrepreneurial opportunities, for the regular user, this data can be very beneficial because it would mean that those who do the real day-to-day work here, will know better where the greatest needs are, not to mention that the long-range planning will be informed by real use-case scenarios, instead of hypotheticals.
There are many other possibilities, that I will not delve further into at this point, in the interest of brevity. If the community wished to petition various software development corporations who have been holding out, based on skepticism this data could be formulated into a strong foundation for persuasion.
Alas, I hope that I am not utterly misguided in this endeavor. I certainly have nothing to loose by sharing this proposal, and I hope that I have not stepped on anyone's toes here. Just the thought of getting access to this data, makes me giddy though, as I have many different ideas and questions regarding usage, how, in what way, and which apps, how often, and to what degree there might be problems, or bugs in release versions (compared to production releases in the wild).
Thank you in advance for your consideration, and for any feedback you might have. I greatly appreciate the efforts of all who contribute here.
Paul J. Richardson