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The Back Page
by Bryan Chaffin

The Unity of the Mac Community
July 2nd, 1999

Perhaps it is the nature of being the "underdog," or perhaps it is the camaraderie experienced between those of superior intellect. :-) (remember that comments and hate mail can be sent to backpage@macobserver.com)

Whatever the case, Mac users are always willing to band together to help out the Mac cause, or sometimes even just to show the world we are Mac users. Nowhere is this more evident than on the Internet of course. The very presence of this magazine, as well as that of other Mac publications, is proof of this. There are very few other groups that have the kind of internal support that Mac users enjoy.

We band together to share news, events, opinions, thoughts, and we sometimes even flame each other. We put massive effort behind providing resources and help for each other. We are all anxious to point each other to the cool things we have found. Most importantly, we all rush to the aid of this intangible concept called "The Mac" whenever we feel it to be threatened.

Take the SETI@home project for instance. Regular Observers will have noted that we have been pushing this project hard. We have even formed our own Team (Team Mac Observer), effectively our own mini-community within a community. There are many reasons for this: it's a great project full of massive scientific value, it is a remarkable experiment in distributed processing that will have far reaching ramifications well into the future, it's a fun project in which to participate, and it really offers a chance for Mac users to show the superior processing power of the PowerPC and the Mac.

And that's what it's all about. Showing the world how cool the Mac is.

Let me reword that. That's what we're all about. Showing the world how cool the Mac is.

Many Observers have shown interest in the project and our updates on SETI@home have drawn consistently high readership from the start. However, the story that has so far drawn the most interest in the series was one in which we announced that Solaris might be overtaking the Mac for most work units completed. That story drew the kind of readership we might expect from an article about Steve Jobs posing nude for PC Weekly*. While lots of people may be interested in science, it seems everyone is interested in making sure the world knows how cool the Mac is.

And that's where that community comes from. That's why we have (or "had" in this case) mailing lists like The EvangeList. That's why we make covert trips to our local Mac retailers just to make sure all the machines work and the demos are running. That's why MUGs have been so successful through the years. That's why we scour our 4 or 5 favorite Mac web sites every day, looking for information, any information, about our computing platform. All these things give us a sense of community.

It is a natural aspect of being human that we want to feel like we are a part of a group. This is true even when that group's underlying theme is the fact that the group is outside the mainstream. I remember a group of punks spray painting "Conformity Sucks!" on the walls of their punk hangout. Never mind that they themselves all looked alike and conformed to their own standards and, to the punks, all outsiders were losers**. They were cool, they were "different", and they had their own community. That moment was an epiphany of sorts. It taught me a lot about human nature, especially the feeling of community.

I think the sense of community we Mac users share is one of the things that makes using our Macs so much more fun than most PC users feel. Knowledge that there are others out there who understand why we feel so strongly about our computers is a source of strength. It is also the type of feeling that those who are outside our community just don't understand. This was brought home to me by some of the e-mail I received after writing Lemmings, Part I and Part II. Many PC users honestly think we are nuts for thinking so strongly about our Macs. It's a threatening concept for them because they are outside the community and they don't understand. A PC is just a tool and there is nothing to get worked up about. They don't get it, so to speak. That's ok though, the world is a big place.

I, for one, am proud to be a member of the Mac community.

 

* Mr. Jobs, to the best of our knowledge, has never posed nude for PC Weekly or any other magazine. This was meant as an example of a sensational story and was not meant to disparage either Mr. Jobs or PC Weekly.

** This was long before I shaved my own mohawk and for the record, I was not wielding the spray paint.

Your comments and hate letters can be sent to backpage@macobserver.com.


began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).

You can send your comments directly to him, or you can also post your comments below.

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