Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Marginalizing the Mac

Interesting blog entry about how important it is to support the Mac in social computing efforts, because Mac users themselves tend to be the eclectic, innovative geeks who will help connect and propagate new and alternative technologies. It's followed by a slew of comments, one side supporting the author and the other side saying "You Mac users with your superiority complexes should get a fucking life", etc. etc.

I suppose there are good reasons why Mac use is considered a cult or a church, why we talk about "converting" or being a "Mac evangelist", and so on. Like religious people, us Mac users have discovered something that we feel has made our lives a whole lot better, we don't understand why other people don't get it, and we just know everybody else would love it too if they'd just give it a chance. Users of other systems get tired of hearing us bemoan our persecution ("why don't people write things for Mac?") and get into heated debates about "platform wars" with deep fervour and devotion to our chosen system. And while I would consider it extremely rude to attempt to change someone's religious faith, I find myself dropping gentle hints and trying to steer those wayward Windows users onto the right path. As far as religious belief goes, I'm an atheist who says "if you're not hurting or bothering anyone, believe what you want" - but switch the topic to operating systems and suddenly I'm ready to spread the "word" (and that's not Microsoft Word).

Of course, to me the Mac does have measurable, tangible benefits. I "converted" from Windows in 1997 and never looked back; although I'm plenty techie and can use a PC just fine, I just find the Mac to be more intuitive, more natural, and more stable. As a result, I'm more comfortable using it. It's more secure and less prone to viruses - though of course some of that is due to market share; what's the point of writing a worm for 2% of the population? I love OS X - it's not perfect, sure, but it just makes sense to me at some fundamental level. It just feels like the authors thought about it more.

I'll freely admit it's not for everybody, though - if you're a serious programmer or hardcore gamer, you don't really want a Mac. (Although since OS X is Unix-based, a lot of programmers are discovering it's a very comfortable platform for them...) I advocate it mainly to the graphics/music/video crowd and for the casual email/word processing users. It's powerful enough for the experienced and intuitive enough for the novices. It just depends what you need it for. YMMV, etc.

In case anyone's wondering, the first half of my root canal went fairly badly and hurt like hell, and then the second half went perfectly well and all is now right with the world. So that's the end of that little adventure in pain for the time being. I hope.


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