Worse is Better Philosophy

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Something that just works, is bare bones, is better for wide adoption than a polished product that takes long to get to market. Put in another way, User Interface comes after Functionality. Aka the New Jersey Approach.

The property that makes for Worse-is-Better is modularity - easy improvability and adaptability. This is also known as Growable-is-Better.

Metphysically Speaking

If you analize the language of Worse is Better, you will notice that it implies that worse vs better depends on what metric you are using. In other words - worse is better implies that the thing in question is worse by some metrics and better by others - so the real question becomes what metric is being used - and more fundamentally - the phrase emphasizes that something can be evaluated from different perspectives. Thus, worse or better - depends on what aspect you are analizing.

Notable Examples

  • Note that Linux was explicitly built on the worse is better concept when it comes to its monolithic kernel design - a known bad design that works better in practice. Stallman proposed a modular kernel - and 3 decades later - product hasn't shipped yet.

OSE Case

  • In the OSE case, since we publish early and often, and make in-progress work accessible for the reason of unleashed collaboration and cultural creation - we de facto operate on the Growable-is-Better version of worse-is-better. We avoid the worse-is-better stage, because our initial design is designed with growability, according to OSE Specifications, in particular, OSE Spec 3 - modularity. Modularity is be definition growable.
  • The OSE Filter includes worse is better. Growable-is-better is achieved by modular design - as with Incremental Housing is an example of worse-is-better.


  • Growable is Better, Stanford CS Departmetn - [1]
  • Worse is Better, Stanford CS Departmetn - [2]