My lack of attention

from 2022-08-26T20:00:00Z

I am jealous, jealous about attention others get and I don't. This is my rant or more kind of let off steam (since I don't expect to get attention on this haha).

I will come to two examples where my ego struggles a bit with. But first I want to give some context and introduction: I am a professional software developer and developing software and small hardware projects is one of my passions. So because of this I also develop FLOSS software in my free time. And this is about the lack of attention to my FLOSS projects. Anyway I am not a person who needs or even wants to gain attention. I like privacy a lot and I like more to stay quietly in the background. And it's also fine if my software does, besides I would be happy if my work get appreciation in being used by more and more people. But in general if not, it's fine. The problem for me start's when other software gets more attention and I know mine is better or at least even and I was first.

Let's talk about Gloomhaven Helper.

My first example is my current project bringing me to write this post. So there was an app called Gloomhaven Helper. It is a companion app for a very famous boardgame called Gloomhaven. It was discontinued this year because of reasons and since it wasn't OSS, it was shut down and is gone for now (you can still get it somehow, but don't need to go too much in detail here). So here we are and me using the app with my group of friends and also me capable of building a successor I can improve, change and extends to my needs. Of course I am not the only one with this idea and even I may be one of the first starting with it, I was definitely not the first to have something to show. But when I was, I was the first coming with a relatively same interface (so that everyone using the old app can easily switch. [Disclaimer: and also because I am not good at UX]). Anyways my app is there and it's working, it have had most features of the old one and by now it has literally all features and even more!

Again some more context: the biggest community around Gloomhaven is on Reddit. I had a Reddit account before, but as said, I don't post much stuff public on the internet besides my projects. I was not very active and also started with the game end of 2021. I would say, I am really fresh into business someway. And here come the social algorithms, which make me jealous and I cannot (and don't want to) fight with them. Let's come to the real competitor. Someone else created a very similar app. This person modded the old app before, is for sure more active in the community and has far more knowledge in the game. He has a better legacy and he deserves it. In the end his app will be the better one I think, because it's not relying on a bloaty web frontend framework and don't has to hustle with CSS tricks for browser compatibility and so on. For now, it's just lacking of features in comparison, but I am not here to complain about it in any way. I am happy about other software. And it's even FLOSS, so I really like it. We can complement and inspire each other. The only thing I don't like is the visibility on Reddit. An update to my app gets far less attraction as his. And under his posts, there all kinds of comments like: "Would be nice to have feature XY from the old app!", "Really nice, I only miss feature Z!" and I am reading it… and I am thinking: “My app has this feature”. “And oh, it doesn't run on your system? My app runs in a browser on every system.” But I don't want to steal attention, so I cannot write comments advertising my app. I am not that kind of person. I just know now there seem to be many people coming from using the old app, going to Reddit and just don't see my posts about my app. Otherwise they would know, that there is another one with features they want to see. Maybe I am wrong on this and same people see my posts and just don't like it, don't like my app. I don't know. But I am jealous.

Let's talk about a pandemic

Okay not directly. But let's talk about a tool for helping to handle the pandemic. The Apple/Google Exposure Notification API [ENA] (I think meanwhile they renamed it). I am not using any Google Services, but I use an Android Phone, because I don't like Apple either. So when ENA was served via Google Playservice updates, I didn't get it. But of course I would like to use it. So I took a look at the specification and okay, that looked way less complicated than I thought. Having an ESP32 laying around with Bluetooth a new project was born. Since it took a while, a Google-free implementation came up so no need for me for this anymore. But of course I thought: this can be very useful for others, namely people without Smartphone. I don't know how many commercial products are out there, offering the ENA functionality with a hardware token. But as FLOSS I can tell you: none (At least when I was in a really good ready state end of 2020, which I think was very fast). And at least in Germany I can tell that besides some case studies, there was no commercial token with any distribution. So by now this is still my highest liked project on GitHub with **drum-roll** 39 likes. I got attention from Cadus. A german aid agency. They search the web for something I did and obvioulsly only found me. I really like the people and appreciate their work and also their support in my project. In the end, they also didn't seem to get that much attention to it. After our talk on first RC3, we lost contact. But anyways, this collaboration showed me again that I had created something unique, useful and for fighting the pandemic we have to spread the word. I am not good in gaining attention. I posted a "Show HN" on hackernews. I will post this on hackernews as well. I don't know anything else. I am not on Facebook. I am not active on twitter. I got three followers on my mastodon which are ally my real life friends. My post about my ESP32 ENA implementation got zero attention. Post about people creating scanners to show how many people using ENA nearby you got more attention (of course my device had this functionality included, I have full ENA implementation!). So I am jealous.

Conclusion

Of course I don't have a conclusion. I am facing a problem, I think many people will have on the internet: Some people get more attention than you do and you don't know why. In my particular case of open source software it may be even bigger. I don't know how many public FLOSS repositories are out there, wonderful unique projects not gaining any attention. And of course, how should social algorithms know. The number of those wonderful unique projects will be dwarfed in comparison to all the bullshit people put out there. My projects cannot be distinguished from the bullshit until some people raise attention to it. Maybe some of my projects are bullshit too. I don’t know and never will.

I don't like people catching attention. I don't want attention to my person. I don't want some "Look at him!"-moments. I want "Look at this!"-moments. I don't like tricking social algorithms. I don't like people not being honest about what they do. I name the problems of my software next to the features. I love FLOSS, I love FLOSS community. I want to thank all the small people buying me virtual coffees because they took notice and appreciate my work. I am still jealous.

[Disclaimer: I am from Germany, you may have noticed because of my writing. I am happy to correct all grammatical mistakes and wrong punctuation if you tell me.]