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Rastin Mehr

Rastin Mehr

June 17 2011

Busting 5 Myths About Anahita™

1. Anahita is not finished yet.

The birth release of Anahita (stable) was made available on January, however Anahita will never be finished, because it is an open ended project.

For a software project, "finished" is another word for "as good as dead". That means the project is no longer capable of growing, evolving, and keeping up with the changes in the ecosystem.

By not being finished yet, sometimes people refer to a software that isn't packed with all sorts of features that can be configured using point and click tools. In reality products that try to reach that state end up being very bloated and slow. In long term they become buggy, insecure, and hard to maintain.

That is why rather than packing Anahita with features, we are aiming to provide options to build features and focus on features that are used at least 90% of the time in all types of projects. These options are provided as APIs, recipes, and examples.

2. Anahita is not a polished product.

Anahita was never meant to be a polished product. Polished products are made to function in a limited context. Anahita is aiming to provide the generic building blocks for all sorts of social networking projects and you will be the one polishing it off before launching your project. You'll do that while saving tremendous time and resources by not having to start building from scratch.

That is why Anahita is similar to a box of legos. You can build many business projects with the lego bricks and constantly rebuild and refine the design. On the other hand some kids are just happy with a shiny red truck that provides some configuration options and it basically does one thing only: being a shiny red truck!

A red truck gets you started faster than a lego project. You get to go around and show it off, it is shiny and red, but you can't go far with it. The lego kids will always have a new game to play and they are often a lot more creative too.

3. Anahita is about to change their underlying infrastructure entirely.

All the foundations of the Anahita framework and platform are in place, however in every new release we will be constantly changing, rebuilding, and improving the technology based on what we have learned from using the previous releases. Sometimes we have to implement an architecture in multiple stages and gradually walk the community through the iterative updates and get them to the destination.

So the constant changes are just a permanent part of the evolution and growth of the project. The only thing that doesn't change, is change itself.

4. There is no instruction manual for Anahita

When you become a Premium member we won't give you an instruction manual. We do however provide help on the Premium support and project groups, but you must interact with the other people and us on a daily basis and be committed and willing to learn in order for us to be able to help you.

Seriously, if you really think that you can just read an instruction manual and put together a business idea or project of significant value on the web that grows and scales up, you are being very naive! You will be wasting time and resources of your own and others.

If you don't believe me, there are already point-and-click products out there crafted to entice people using long feature lists and built on a naive architecture or no architecture at all. Some of them come with instruction manuals too. Please do give them a try! If you liked them, then you have found your match. If not, then you have enough reasons not get distracted by them as much, get in the community, and learn from your peers.

5. Anahita is not for the none-technical users

If you know how to install and configure a Joomla, Wordpress, or Drupal installation, you should know just about enough to install and configure a social network using Anahita Social Engine and Social Apps. If you have technical skills, you can go far beyond that.

We have learned that people who benefit most from Anahitapolis services are:

1. Hackerpreneurs (Hacker + Entrepreneurs) who have hands in both technology and business development. These are the deadliest warriors in the technology world.

2. People who don't have the right technical skills but have the ambition and commitment to use Anahitapolis.com as a social learning environment to sharpen their technical and community management skills while we give them the basic building blocks for launching their projects.

3. Any combination of the last 2 who have development resources, i.e companies or teams with developers in them.

These 3 groups are worth investing in, because they are the ones who will most likely be impacting our future lives! If you look at many of the projects on the web that changed our lives (Facebook, twitter, Apple computers, Amazon, Flickr, Wordpress) they have been founded or co-founded by people who fit in either groups.

Another question is: Why not build Anahita packed with point-and-click features? After all if we want to have any chance of success, we should serve the none techie, none coder, business developer, idea person! Right?

No, Here is why:

Often what can be done with only 10 or 100 lines of code, it will take hundreds or thousands of lines of code to be done the point-and-click way. Now if you want to build a software that is packed with many point-and-click features, you will end up with with a software with hundred and thousands of line of code. Such a software does not scale up well, it is slow, does not evolve, and tend to be buggy and insecure.

So neither the product nor the people who will be using it are going to be any game changers. Sorry, but it's just how it's going to be. We think it would be unethical that we grab your money and give you false hopes. #anahita #social #networking #engine

James O'Sullivan
James O'Sullivan
June 17 2011 Permalink
Rastin, have to say great piece again and this gives me for one (im one of anahita's not too technical people but willing to learn) confidence that anahita is here to stay and evolve. I have said this before, but I have been around 2 years now following anahita and its been great to see it grow in the right way and honestly I can only see it get better with this drive and great attitude. I think due to it getting a little more mature people are expecting a turn key solution but I for one came here to contribute to something that can truly scale and get better like a fine wine....
No kidding.
I learned HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP and can develope with them a lot once I startet to work with Anahita for more than 1 year ago.
I can remember I started to analyze the old Anahita template.
Rastin, an excellent post ! Technology is the fastest game in town. The challenge for the years to come will be simple : learn to program or be programmed.

To quote Marc Prensky : "As programming becomes more important it will leave the back room and become a key skill and attribute of our top intellectual and social classes, just as reading and writing did in the past."

Technology is the most powerful force in the world. It has the capacity to cause change. Today anyone kid with a computer can change the world, Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jobs Jobs (Apple), Buytaert (Drupal), Torvals (Linux), MullenBerg (Wordpress), ...

Steve Jobs once said, "a computer is the most remarkable tool we've ever come up with" and right he is. Computing is the ultimate sandbox of our mind, allowing us to explore, model en even execute whatever system we can 'imagine', as long as we can figure out how to express them. This is programming, and we should all learn how.

Keep up the great work !
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Jennifer Tibbo
Jennifer Tibbo
June 17 2011 Permalink
And this is why I love Anahita...well put....
Well put. I would add from a social change perspective that complete things do not attracts participation. And participation is far more than being an audience.

The business models and ideas in Anahita have attractiveness and stickiness because they offer a way for everyone to make their own - which builds participation. If one can not add one cannot participate, and then one is dis-empowered.

Try achieving participation with any finished product, something built to last, to answer all questions, and ALL you will get is an audience of followers.

We come from 100 years of a society of spectators and the models out there are still largely embodying the old paradigm. Being prepared for a universe of many Anahita enabled self-regulating networks interacting is really a good bet. I think this is a more likely scenario than megaFBook and so on where audiences will desert once they run of content and social dynamic, or when eye-ball based commerce takes them over.
From the very first contact with Anahita, Rastin pointed out to me that it would be easier to see the beauty of Anahita as a developer. The reason I still partly question this, is because I believe there also exist some objective and universal criteria for beauty.

Already long before I joined this community, I had a desire to start a virtual supported "learning and co-operation project" according to many of the same principals as I found described in the Anahita Philosophy (almost felt a little bit like “coming home”) - so even if I am in the "interested to learn - with a little help of my friends & possibly some developers along the way" category, I do sense the beauty :)

@ Aleks - agree
From the very first contact with Anahita, Rastin pointed out to me that it would be easier to see the beauty of Anahita as a developer. The reason I still partly question this, is because I believe there also exist some objective and universal criteria for beauty.

Already long before I joined this community, I had a desire to start a virtual supported "learning and co-operation project" according to many of the same principals as I found described in the Anahita Philosophy (almost felt a little bit like “coming home”) - so even if I am in the "interested to learn - with a little help from my friends & possibly some developers along the way" category, I do sense the beauty :)

@ Aleks - Agree
Thank you so much @James O'Sullivan, @James Imani, @Johan, @Jennifer, @Aleks, and @Bent.

I must clarify that by point-and-click features I really meant customization done by point-and-click rather than programming. The Point-and-click approach to customization is a very poor approach for launching real life projects even though it does look very attractive on the feature list.

I do agree with the point-and-click features that improve the day to day usability and interaction with the software and service. How else people would be able to use a social networking software? We will be providing more of those in every release.

I have published a more polished version of this topic on our blog: Busting 5 Myths About The Anahita™

I also would like to mention that last week we had a bit of a troll situation on our Facebook page and emails sent to us privately. Unfortunately we had to block that person from Anahitapolis and our Facebook page. I think that was somehow reflected in my tone of writing when I made this post. Just wanted to let you know that it wasn't by any means aiming at any of the existing Anahitapolis members. I am only human after all and sometimes can be under influence of emotions. So if the tone of this topic was a bit direct or angry I apologize!
Hi Rastin, having been in the midst of that Facebook conversation, I think you guys handled it as well as you could have. It's the nature of the beast that you can not please everyone all the time.

I do have some feedback for you on this one, and I hope you can see it in the spirit in which it is intended. I am a business systems analyst by trade, and I implement ERP systems in large corporations. It's my job to bridge the gap between the technical programmers and the functional end users, and that is the perspective I take when evaluating something like Anihata as well. I am not a programmer, but I work closely with them and I think I understand better than the average Joe what makes programmers tick. My strength is in seeing how the underlying structures enhance or hinder the functional process, and communicating this in language that both ends can understand.

So on to the feedback: I think where you lose people who do not have a strong background in programming is in this statement:
"If you know how to install and configure a Joomla, Wordpress, or Drupal installation, you should know just about enough to install and configure a social network using Anahita Social Engine and Social Apps. If you have technical skills, you can go far beyond that."

Based on the responses here and on Facebook, I think what is happening is that you are building an expectation that non-technical users can plug it in, configure it a bit, and make it do what they want (remember that perception is reality). Even if you follow it up with paragraphs about how important it is to be willing to learn to program, the expectation is already set. What a programmer considers "non-technical" and what a lay person considers non-technical may be VASTLY different.

I would encourage you guys to engage the wisdom of marketing folks, or business analysts like me, in how to work things to an end user population that is often made up of people used to Joomla extensions that just drop in and function, and that have point and click configuration and design. If you build the right perception up front, you won't get people so disillusioned when their expectations are not met.
@Bethany - I am the quintessential non-technical person and must say I find the statement about Anahita quite accurate - I am able to play, imagine, create, weave stories, make stuff happen that wiki, cms and social stuff on their own cannot.

I know nearly nothing of CSS, html, Java, let alone the layers upon layers of technology that make up the world of a thing like this - so given that Anahita does so much translating this to my limited understanding - I can only say it is simply simple. ;-D
James O'Sullivan
James O'Sullivan
June 27 2011 Permalink
I would say terminology is a step up for people used to CMS software but to be honest installing anahita is alot easier than your usual joomla extensions. The standard of craftsmanship here is alot higher in general and support is actually amazing.

I am not sure if the lads are losing anyone as I have no knowledge of this but after all, this is early days and its a social network framework so I really am not sure why a person with no knowledge of this space what so ever would want with it :) I dont think a marketeer is needed to sell this to someone who does not need it after all :) just my thoughts. I think if you ask Rastin straight up he will set any expectations right in line. I have not seen any comments on facebook but really I think people really need to experience it first here before commenting on facebook.
Let me clarify - Marketing is not to sell it to people who don't need it, but to prevent people who don't need/want it from thinking they do! :-)

It's not so much the installation of Anihata that I think matters, it's the customization that my comments are addressing. Effective marketing isn't about making something look like it's not, but accurately representing a product so that the intended market is reached. If the intended market is not the "I just want something to plug in and work without having to think too much" crowd, then one would be careful not to make it sound like that. I don't think the guys here have tried to do that, not at all, but I DO think that what is "simple" to advanced programmers is NOT simple to most, so statements can be unintentionally misleading.

@Aleks, I am glad to hear you say that. I would love to hear what experience you've had with any customization of code if you have ever tried any.
I think what I am trying to get at here is that developers need to listen to what potential customers perceptions ARE, not what they want them to be. If someone is disgruntled, we should not write them off as someone who just doesn't "get it," but also look to how we are presenting a product and see if there is a way to better communicate so they "get it." People don't always see what we think they will (or what we think they *should*). Marketing is an evolution. :-)
@Bethany - you make your point about marketing communications very well - I have no clue of what the argument was - I was merely stating that One can work with Anahita in a level similar to Joomla etc as you quoted. That particular statement did not contain anything wrong to my understanding.

Many people would understand that Joomla is beyond what they are prepared to understand, or hosting a server, or something else. Being realistic about what one knows and cans, and what one is prepared to learn, is an acquired capacity. Most people think they are above average drivers ;-) It is a well understood cognitive bias.

Customising code requires knowing stuff I am not interested in learning, at least not faster than I need to - not because anything else - but that there are tons of business side/user side stuff that is far more interesting to me. A hackerpreneur of reality - I call it a scaffolder of new opportunities ;-)

(always a bit jealous of the people who can read code and perceive data structures like if it was plain English LOL )
My new favorite term - cognitive bias, lol. The more one knows, the more one realizes how little they know!

I am more than a little jealous of people who can read/write code. I can get by in things like VB and SQL when I need to, but more advanced than that requires some really dedicated brain space. I think it's a bandwidth thing; I only have so much of it, and it's already spread pretty thin :-)
@Aleks @Bethany Programming is no longer skill dedicated to programmers. It is more and more becoming a life skill and perhaps a business skill requirement if you want to build anything of significant value on the Internet. Many high school kids are graduating with basic programming knowledge. I've seen good programming skills amongst medical practitioners, lawyers, biologists, artists, designers just because they have been dedicated and interested enough to teach themselves programming using many great resources on the web.

We are more than happy to help our Premium Members to nurture and develop their programming skills in Anahitapolis. As we've said it many times, Anahitapolis is a social learning environment for those who are willing to learn.

Anahita provides the basics to the none technical and a lot more to the technical crowd.
You aren't required to know advanced software development design patterns to customize Anahita, however the more you know, the more potent and competitive you become.
@Rastin - thanks - for sure I agree and we all need to grow in what is less in us ;-)and will use Anahita to nurture my know-how and become better at the technology and what it enables.

I am also happy to help the community to grow the real-life/people side of the community solutions' equation. The human side is also becoming a life and business skill. In a way - the technology is in large part a sand-box of what we need to become as people.

E.g.a basic premise of hierarchical systems is distrust of people. And no matter how hard one wants to trust is not something one can will. But there are processes to help this change along and create more opportunity for collaborative systems.

I don't think this will or can happen on its own - at least not fast enough - and just like we need web-technology to create sand-boxes to learn faster, so we need social sand-boxes.

The normal systems - from family, to education, to business- all revolve around hierarchical structures. They provide and we get a wind of how things "should be". Once this happens we tend to become prisoner of a future by-design thinking: the "idea crowned king".

From there on Trust becomes ever scarcer. Suspicion of pretendants to the throne cannot be avoided. People (and ideas) are to be feared, divided and controlled.

Changing this dynamic is easier in new emerging systems, but because it happens unconsciously, it is soon forgotten. I have heard many entrepreneurs declare how they would not "hire ourselves" after they actually had some success.

Social processes are key - seeding the systems with the right type of leaders as you express it - is part of the answer.
@Aleks LIKE+ thank you!

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