Monday, December 16, 2002

Let the games begin: Jonathan complains this morning that he's unable to italicise text when blogging from the office, since he's forced to use a Mac, "and the Mac browser does not support that capability". He's blaming the wrong party: it's not Apple's fault that Blogger hasn't fixed their software so that Mac users enjoy the same conveniences as Windows users; also not Apple's fault that Jonathan hasn't figured out the simple HTML code for italics....

"Can someone please explain to me again why the Macintosh exists?", he asks. Ah, just the opportunity I've been waiting for to link to a fascinating five-part series by Leander Kahney on Mac loyalty, published on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Most of my half-dozen readers already know I'm blogging on an iBook, & have been firmly on the side of Apple since the first time I sat down in front of a little Mac Plus, roughly 12 years ago, & felt an instinctive affinity: here was a computer that seemed to think the way I did, that I could use intuitively, without frequently, frustratedly resorting to a manual or an "expert", a computer that seemed to exist to make the world a little easier for me. I've been a confirmed Mac user ever since (even though from time to time I've been forced to grapple with Windows, & even now there's a Dell sitting on a desk at home, gathering dust). There are lots of reasons: the elegance of the interface, the stability of the platform, the fact that I feel I can tinker around inside the OS without doing catastrophic damage, & that I pretty much don't have to worry about viruses — but above all else my Mac just feels right to me; it feels like an extension of my working mind, not a tiresome protuberance that I'm forced to tolerate.

Maybe I just think different.

Or you could look at it this way:

"Umberto Eco, the Italian semiologist, once famously compared Macs and PCs to the two main branches of the Christian faith: Catholics and Protestants.

"The Mac is Catholic, he wrote in his back-page column of the Italian news weekly, Espresso, in September 1994. It is 'cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the Kingdom of Heaven — the moment in which their document is printed.'

"The Windows PC, on the other hand, is Protestant. It demands 'difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: A long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment."

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