Some Needs, Some Of The Time

I don’t know why I love this quote from a post in panlibus:

serve some needs of some parts of the population, some of the time

…though my love for the quote may have something to do with my embrace of what OpenSearch creator DeWitt Clinton describes as the “80% case,” the solution that would work for the great majority of applications most of the time.

It’s one of those things that’s easy to see in retrospect, but difficult to aim for: building a tool that is specific enough to be useful, but not too specific. A hammer is a wonderfully versatile tool, but a ball-peen hammer is really only useful for metal work.

My interest in all this is in the ecology of formats, standards, and protocols and in what makes some things work while others just sputter about.