First, being in the MDP was not a paid position, and so all this testing, learning, building, and playing had to go on around our "day jobs". In my case that was stay-at-home Dad for the summer, so I had a distinct advantage (in the fall I start teaching college-level physics again, and my on-line presence will certainly take a hit). While the MDP in general is a very very enthusiastic group, it was not a group of people with unlimited time - just a group of talented, enthusiastic folks trying to do as much as possible with the tools at hand. Yes, some of the MDP worked harder than others, because of interest or time constraints. And some undoubtably had other commitments come up later that reduced their contribution. I think that's probably standard for any group of people in this sort of situation.
Second, much of that time was spent doing exactly what LEGO asked us to do, things like testing the software intensely. Outside the MDP (and the NDA) this wasn't seen, but it took a good bit of time and is one of the reasons the finished product works as it does.
Third, as Jim mentioned, there's new stuff coming to light every day, and I suspect this will continue for some time. Not all of it will be through LEGO, however: for instance, Microsoft is jumping on the NXT bandwagon, and due to the MDP there is already someone to provide critical comment on some of their attempts (thanks Matthias). That's another continuing spin-off of the MDP.
Finally, the MDP was (and is!) very diverse group of people. We were actually not brought together to generate content for the LEGO MDP profiles - far from it! There are...
- Teachers, who have already developed curriculums or modified FLL coaches guides, provided feedback to LEGO as well as FLL and homeschooling communities, and in general jump-started the process, before product release, of how to apply it in an educational setting.
- Writers, some of whom already have books in progress (several, at last count), and some of whom are planning books, or helping as reviewers
- Extreme builders, who have tried their hand at building studless, and using new design elements like Hassenpins, in some cases putting these out in Brickshelf, or other forums.
- "Bare metal" types, who within hours of getting their NXT's, had opened them up to began the reverse engineering process to jump-start the hardware community.
- "Close to the metal" types, embedded systems programmers, who immediate began working on ways to reprogram the NXT at a very low level, first understanding and eventually hopefully replacing the firmware.
- Sensor builders, to design, protoype, build, & test, and then actually get production started on custom third-party sensors... all to be released nearly at the same time as LEGO launches the NXT, instead of years later.
- Higher-level programmers, developing environments for other languages, on various platforms (PC, Mac, PDA, cell phones), as well as third-party utilities to edit and create .rso files, .ric files, etc. Some of this is also already come to light, even though it's still before the "official" release date.
- Artists, to give their own view on a new technology and the consequences in a wider cultural context.
- Torture testers who spent time trying to break the new toy in different ways, to expose flaws in the hardware or software, reporting these back to LEGO or other members of the MDP to be addressed.
- Bloggers (such as Jim), to provide an on-line presence and link between all these seperate elements and the growing community of NXT users. And in some cases, folks like Jim have leveraged their ability be bringing new bloggers in to the field (like me).
As I said before, I am NOT upset by folks who feel "sour grapes" towards what the MDP has provided them with; you have every right to ask those questions and hold those opinions. But I wanted to present a larger picture of what (at least I feel) the MDP entailed. Now there are members of the MDP spread out all over the place as seeds of a diverse community... and if you are dissatisfied with the direction that is moving, good! Because it means you (yes you!) can help craft a stronger community. The MDP are seeds - time to join us.