When I was 10, The Flintstones had an episode about this. Fred and Barney gathered statistics about what people wanted in a song, and then composed it. They catered to all subjects, and a punchline was that one of them was "mothers-in-law". The song was terrible; the main message seemed to be that such art lacks integrity (not in an ethical sense, but in a sense of fitting together, being whole, being one thing). Of course, such lack isn't necessary (eg. the Monkees had some great songs), but it is much harder than speaking out of a deeper truth. Perhaps it's like the flow of writing off the top of your head vs. over-editing and getting a patchwork of concepts and mismatched conjugations.
I've always liked the idea of a work being both popular and critically acclaimed (who doesn't?). I do think there's a thrill in doing something that is very cool to yourself; but there is also a thrill in doing something that is truly valuable to people. Both can be aspects of the heroic journey, of serving something greater than oneself: serving an idea, or serving a community.
But I think this may be a little different for art (which Sivers is talking about) and software (which I'm (mainly) talking about).
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