Matt Jones

When The Journalists and The Mac Users Met

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Leander Kahney wrote a series of articles for Wired in he which explores the psychology of Mac buying; why people are so damn fanatical about their Macs and whether this is purely a result of Apple's clever marketing strategy. The articles in this series are as follows:

After reading through these articles, Mac users weren't happy with the overall conclusion that their choice of computer was really a result of some kind of pseudo-religious brainwashing activity. Wired call this the Cult of Mac and consistently produce articles in which Mac users obssess about converting their iMacs into fish tanks or Mac SEs into PowerPCs running OS X. At first I thought articles like this were fun and interesting, but after reading John Gruber's appraisal of them, I now realise that tales of Mac obsession are easy fodder for tech journalists to write about when they're short of a story.

At about the same time that Kahney got a heap of irate mail in reponse to his articles, Jack Schofield at Onlineblog.com wrote about Kahney's final piece ‘Baby, Friend, Pet: That's My Mac’. In response to Kahney's suggestion that Apple add human characteristics to their computers in order to form some kind of emotional attachment with their owner, Schofield wrote:

‘Clearly there's now a major industry devoted to explaining why 2.5% of the computer-buying population is still willing to pay well over the odds for very slow computers that severly limit your range of choices and lock you in to a single dictatorial supplier. Maybe Miller should have looked at infantilism instead….’

So now we're not only a bunch of pseudo-religious nutters helplessly neck deep in the Cult of Apple, but we're also infantile while we're at it!? As you can imagine, this started a bit of a flame war on the Onlineblog site, in which I was compelled to have my say on the subject. If someone chooses something over something else, isn't it unfair to pigeon-hole them in this way? Isn't it wrong to bracket, to generalise and stereotype like this? Answer: Yes.

As a Mac user, I see my iMac DVSE as a particularly well designed clump of mass-produced components sitting on my desk. I like it; it does what I want it to do. OS X - by way of its UNIX foundation and its ability to run Apache, PHP and MySQL - has helped me increase my knowledge about how the web works and that is invaluable to me. I don't subscribe to the ‘digital lifestyle’ stuff; my ideal lifestyle involves being somewhere far away from the office Mac at which I'm now sitting. Computers still have a screen and a keyboard; the technology is in a box around which we position ourselves alongside other peripherals, and while we can now do more things with these plastic boxes, the way in which we use them has remained unchanged in over 30 years. Apple have made and continue to make products that make using a computer a more interesting and user-friendly experience. It is Apple's legacy that creates the fanaticism, not the fact that it now makes computers that may look like new-born babies.

So, If you want decent, informative and balanced writing about the Mac platform, try: