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The Mac Community: from Anne Frank to Ariel Sharon - Fraser Speirs

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June 29th, 2006

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11:50 am - The Mac Community: from Anne Frank to Ariel Sharon
In the darkest days of the 1990s, the Mac user community was a corpus of people absolutely committed to defending and perpetuating a technology, a sociology and a way of life. Somewhere in the post-1997, post-iMac, post-Mac OS X and post-iPod world, Apple came good. The eternal victim became the unimpeachable behemoth. Along the way, we were given these weapons from America. The iMac, the iPod, Mac OS X. Now we think of ourselves as armed and thus invulnerable, yet still unimpeachable due to our prior victim status.

There was a time when the Mac community didn't have time to engage in idle speculation. We were too busy doing what we could to keep the platform alive - helping each other get by in a Windows world, getting Macs accepted and connected to the wider infrastructure.

Nowadays, it seems, what used to be called the "Mac web" is filled with what appears to be loudmouthed and naive children. It's increasingly difficult to find that sense of community where informed, level-headed and smart people can help you get your stuff done. If you need some evidence, visit the fora at MacNN or Ars Technica and look for threads which contain anything more than a hint of criticism of Apple. Then behold the wrath of the peanut gallery. Curiously the Finder - the Emmanuel Goldstein of Mac OS X - is exempted from this computational Political Correctness.

Where did it all fall apart? The media characterised us as the Apple Cult. They were wrong then, but we're now playing up to the stereotype even as the media tires of the image. People have fetishised Apple hardware to the point that Apple is not permitted to have the usual failure rates of mass production, yet we demand the machines to be price-competitive with Dell. Children - egged on by Apple, I might add ("crash proof" MacBook? Hardly.) - have made unsupportable claims for Mac OS X that no human engineering effort can live up to.

I believe we have the overall best OS on hardware that is no longer lagging behind that of others. A strong case can be made for it.

That does not imply that Mac OS X is perfect. Is is not and all such claims should be refuted. Apple products are good. They do work well. However, the software is not perfect and the hardware will fail. You demanded price/performance competitive hardware and you got it. Steve Jobs is not some kind of demigod who can defy the normal trade-offs of engineering and manufacturing.

A period of humility and realism on the part of the Mac community would be most welcome. I and many others fought hard in the 1990s for your freedom of choice in computing. Don't waste it through ad hominem attacks on anyone who doesn't like the Dock.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 11:16 am (UTC)
Oh, bravo.
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)

All too true

Even worse is Digg, where anything that's pro-Apple or pro-Mac gets digged up, while any comments critical of Apple get modded down. I've seen perfectly rational statements on there that suggest that, perhaps, Apple is not the perfect company and Steve Jobs is not the messiah end up with -10 diggs, thus hiding them from most users.
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)

Re: All too true

It's amazing to me how Digg turned into Slashdot 2.0 so quickly. I don't read Digg any more.
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC)

I enjoyed that :o]
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC)
Well put.
Date:June 29th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)

Well said.

Thanks Fraser. I enjoyed reading this and commiserating. Sometimes I long for the halcyon days of System 7.5.5 and figuring out ConfigPPP and MacTCP (pre Open Transport) networking stacks. :D
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)
As previously noted, bravo.

And it doesn't help that Apple plays shamelessly to the fanboys, and that their brand identity doesn't allow them to admit error. I suspect that it's going to bite them in the ass hard at some point.

It also doesn't help that many of the champions of transparency, etc. in the marketplace are utter assholes....
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 10:40 pm (UTC)
For the first time, they're using terms like "crash-proof" and "virus-free" in their marketing. That just feels unwise to me.
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
"Virus-free," especially.
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I think that you romanticize the 1990s. There were just as many loudmouthed and naive children then as there are now.

They were just distracted by being loudmouthed and naive at the equally stupid "Apple is Doomed" trolls. Most of the latter have now crawled back under their bridges, leaving the loudmouthed Apple supporters without decoys to target.
[User Picture]
Date:June 29th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
You're right. At least in the '90s we could shuffle off the irrational arguments - whether pro or anti - into a corner and let them shoot at each other. My point is the same as your last one that, nowadays, we're turning our irrationality against people with perfectly legitimate claims such as "I'd rather have two buttons on my MacBook".

Back then, there was at least somewhere you could go to get away from that. I'm finding it harder to find those places in a post-iPod world.
Date:July 3rd, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)

What has Anne Frank and Ariel Sharon got to do with this ?

Not that I'm not oblivious to sarcasm or innuendo - but correct me if I'm wrong - is'nt your reference to Anne Frank and Ariel Sharon a veiled attempt to demonize Israel ? If so, (please tell me I'm wrong) - what is it with some bloggers that they have to make every attempt to find Israel to be a monster or at the very least "an oppressor". Leaving aside the arguments of Arabs vs Israel - to compare Apple - the company - with Israel - smacks of childish "nudge-nudge" - "wink-wink" attitudes....

What exactly was your point ? That the Mac community has changed ? - and why pick Anne Frank to represent that change - those of us who have read and understood what the holocaust means - this sounds like just another attempt to trivialize it.

[User Picture]
Date:July 3rd, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC)

Re: What has Anne Frank and Ariel Sharon got to do with this ?

You are wrong. If you read the archives of this blog, you'll soon see that I hold no candle for the Arab cause.

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