Unity under Threat?
Is it just me, or are there so many threads (and I’ve seen many at other sites) that are getting a bit like a Macs vs PCs debate but with a more disturbing element - a Macs vs Macs flavour?
I enjoy the TMO forms for the intelligent responses from people who are willing to entertain a thought without accepting it but clearly responses on some issues are becoming fiercely polarised. Consensus is not likely in many cases and, worse yet, sometimes apparently not welcome.
But stop a moment to smell the poses. Mac users are arguing among themselves about 9 vs X and Jaguar and .Mac and it’s all getting a bit “Lord of the Flies” for my liking and I’m speaking of an impression gathered over the last few months.
It used to be that being a Mac user meant being part of an ““Us and Them” community where Us used Macs and Them used something else (usually Wintel).
Now it seems to be Us and Them and Those where the Those are OS X users or .Mac adopters or Unix geeks making the switch to “our” platform.
Is the “unity” in community under threat?
Karate ni sente nashi
Well, I think on any debate, things will tend to get heated. I guess we all tend to listen to the most extreme criticisms of our viewpoint, and respond to that, even if we agree, or can understand the point of the moderates. Because it’s the extremes that get heard, and identified with, we forget the common ground. .Mac and the Jaguar upgrade pricing just happened at once. While either would generate a fair amount of comment and argument seperately, the fact that they’re being lumped together really muddies the issue, and makes it harder to see the middle ground.
What’s happening here is a microcosm. For the most part, people are very respectful of the opinions of others, even if they don’t agree. The fact that people can have heated, sometimes angry discussions in the World Politics/Philosophy forum, then generally behave amongst each other in the other rooms speak highly of this forum. Some other forums have allowed the personal attacks to continue for so long, that no-one can enter an argument with an intellectual position to defend. Everyone’s eager to score duelling points off the others with insults and angry accusations.
I’m glad that hasn’t happened here. Even the worst of the arguments haven’t equalled the venom I’ve seen spewed on MacAddict, which used to be my favorite Mac forum. Seperating the news article comments from the forums was also a smart ideal it prevents the level of impulsive “This sucks” “No, YOU suck” posts that happen daily at MacCentral. I know they happen here, I’m just glad they don’t happen as part of the regular forum.
Really, I don’t think we’re seperating into “Them and Those” over this issue. I just hope we have enough respect and intellect to prevent this from becoming “Everyone for theirself”.
Instant Philosopher; Just add hot topic and stir.
I think I know what you’re talking about. Apple has made some tough business decisions lately and it may have widely separated the “Malcontents” from the “Mac Apologists.” (Labels over-exaggerated for clarity)
Some discussions just don’t attract many middle-of-the-road responses. For example, I can see both sides of the .Mac argument so I haven’t really had much to say about it.
All three parties have always existed. Some issues just tend to illuminate the differences between them.
"ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" - Charles Darwin
What’s the difference between a Mac and a PC? Macs are designed, PCs are assembled.
[quote author=“Photodan”]I think I know what you’re talking about. Apple has made some tough business decisions lately and it may have widely separated the “Malcontents” from the “Mac Apologists.” (Labels over-exaggerated for clarity)
Oversimplified, but an interesting way to frame the issue. I believe the conversations in the TMO forum are much better than most other forums in terms of the depth of the discussion and the debate.
It seems to me that Apple is on a dual track in terms of changes - reverting to a more fully intergrated hardware and software series of solutions reminiscent of the first Jobs era while adopting more standard PC industry practices in terms of business operations.
I don’t know if Apple will ever be what any one user or enthusiast expects or wants it to be. But as long as the discussion and debate remains civil and intelligent, I will enjoy being a participant in the electronic conversations.
Whilst I fully understand your view point, I don’t actually agree.
There most certainly is a lot more argument in the online Mac community these days. But that community is a lot bigger than it was a couple of years ago, and we have a lot more to discuss than we used to!
Mac users have often been accused of being a cult.
This is because cults are completely blinded to the world around them and wont listen to criticisms. Mac users have been guilty of this.
Differing view points within the Mac community are healthy. I welcome the increasing diverse user base. Discussion is good. Controversial opinions are good and should be actively encouraged.
Of course there are going to be antagonistic trolls or people who really don’t know what they are talking about and are just plain stupid!
But we can just ignore them and lead by example. Trolls wont bother if they don’t get a response and the ignorant are here to learn and we all have a responsibility to teach.
You say “Is the “unity” in community under threat?”
My response to this is absolutely not.
Once again I will reiterate my point:
A community that doesn’t argue is a cult.
A community that shares a common goal but has many differing ideas about how to get there is healthy and will thrive!
So embrace diversity, engage in discussion and strive to improve the Mac community as a whole.
These are exciting times and I am excited. :-D
Just chiming in again to clear the air on something. Guest writes that a community open to debate and embracing of different viewpoints is healthy and sure to thrive. Agreed.
In no way am I advocating the notion of Mac cultism as a Good Thing.
The contemporary Mac user is IMHO far better educated and open to alternatives than those from, say, the Amelio era. (Please, no flames, I’m generalising).
However, I can confidently say that I have not seen in the past decade a Mac community culture so emphatic in its negativity towards Apple and sometimes each other as I have seen in the last few months, culminating in the outcry over .Mac and Jaguar.
Again, debate is a healthy thing, but it’s getting a nasty flavour lately. The fact that the MacOSX.com Webmaster shut down that site’s forums in response to overwhelming negativity offers some indication of my view from this particular corner.
Karate ni sente nashi
Very interesting post!
I agree that the Mac community is becoming more negative when it comes to Apple, but I do not think that this is necessarily a bad thing. As mentioned above, debate and diversity is the spice of life, and the more discussion we have and the more opinions we air the better off we will be, so long as things are done intelligently and respectfully.
I think though that we mac users are simply experiencing the growing pains from a small, tightly knit and fiercely loyal group of users to a more open, larger, and less defensive band. Think about it, back in the bad old days, we were always defending ourselves from ‘them’, and we were all comrades fighting the good fight for a platform we loved. Not many people in the Mac community talked a lot about what Apple was doing wrong, we talked about why Apple was our platform of choice, why it was better than Windows, and focused our bitterness towards our common enemy in Redmond.
Today we don’t need to be too defensive about being Mac users. We Mac people have mainstream acceptance. ZDNet raves about Apple products, PC Magazine praises the sexy look of OS X and the TiBook, Slashdot gives us our very own subsection, unix geeks are picking up iBooks and loving them, and Apple’s future is secured by four billion dollars in cash. These are truly great times to be a Mac user.
So now that we don’t have to focus on daily defending our platform against the Wintel hordes what do we do? Some of us look around and start to realize that maybe some of those things we defended before maybe aren’t as great as we thought they were. Just as Wintel people were accused of knee-jerk ‘Mac’s suck’ reactions, we Mac users were often just as guilty of ‘Mac’s rule’ knee-jerk reactions - and just as the Wintel people are starting to think different so are we. Maybe Apple is capable of doing something wrong, or maybe we don’t like something that Apple is doing, and now we don’t have any qualms about voicing our negative opinions because we don’t have so much invested in convincing ourselves (and others) differently. Some of us spent a lot of time convincing ourselves and others that Apple was perfect, and now Apple is going and screwing it all up by charging for iTools, or charging for 10.2, or sticking with the G4 when Intel has so many more cycles per second, or not releasing the G5 (because you know they have it and are just trying to sell us a few more G4’s before they make us all upgrade again), or whatever - pick your beef. And that’s scary, isn’t it? It’s hard to realize that something you really care about could make mistakes. We all want Apple to be the best, unconditionally, and some of us get upset when we see something that we think jeopardizes that.
In short, we, as a community, are growing up. Self evaluation and criticism is a part of that process. We all still love Apple, we just don’t feel as shy or guilty about pointing out what we don’t like about our favorite computer manufacturer. And everybody knows that it’s easier to pick out flaws than point out what’s right. When was the last time you called up some company you do business with just to tell them what you like about them? Or do you just call up when you have a problem?
As for why things are coming out so badly now, I think we only need look at Apple’s bottom line. As said above, Apple has made some tough business decisions lately and we Mac users aren’t used to that. We’ve been pretty spoiled lately when you start to think about it. Free email, free web space, free iTunes, free iMovie, free iPhoto, free online storage, competitive hardware prices, dual processor systems at the same prices as older single processor systems - the list goes on - heck, we even yelled enough about charging for 10.1 and got exactly what we wanted. I think it was inevitable that Apple had to start charging for stuff sooner or later, and the current slowdown in sales has prompted ‘sooner’ rather than ‘later’. It sucks being told that something you want isn’t free, and some people are saying so more loudly than others. As with all things, people are coming down at various points in the spectrum on issues that might bother them.
As far as the personal attacks and childish nonsense that goes on in some posts, I think it is inevitable when you’re on the web and there is a large enough group of people. It’s unfortunate but true - some people are just jerks on the web. This is something we’re going to have to deal with because it isn’t going to go away. Perhaps we could take a lesson in self-moderation in forums? I don’t know, that’s something we’ll have to decide individually. Look on the bright side though, our community is large enough to support a couple of regular trolls! Sure, we always had trollers, but now we have Mac using trollers! Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, and in this case we get the good of a growing community but the bad of a couple of jerks included in our swelling numbers. I don’t know about you, but I’ll make that trade.
Thanks for reading. Have a great day.
Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope maths.
At MWNY, Jobs said about 20 per cent (maybe 25?) of the installed user base had moved up to OS X.
Assuming that most/many OS 9 users aren’t interested in Jaguar, can we suppose the reactions to .Mac (which is inter-dependent on 10.2 to some degree, iCal for instance) and Jaguar are from a relatively small group of users and that the flavour in the Mac forums lately is mainly being tainted by a vocal minority?
Not that there’s anything wrong with minorities but to echo a poster at the thread which spawned this one, it’s of genuine concern to me that “switchers” dialling into the Mac camp just now are getting the wrong impression about the community.
Whereas I’d like to think of the Mac throng as kinda like the best bits of Haite Ashbury, it’s more like Salem of yore. (Pardon if that analogy is a little rough but I am on the other side of the planet to most Observers and that’s the best I could do.)
Whaddya think? Is it possible, as the predominantly positive responses to osX.com’s Webmaster Scott William’s forum shutdown might suggest, that perhaps most Mac users are still in fact happy campers? Or not? :-?
Karate ni sente nashi
I hate to tell you all this, but we are all mac extremists. Ordinary mac users do not go to mac news sites, read the mac web, and certainly do not post on mac message boards.
That being said, those of us who do hit the mac web everyday tend to be more passionate about Apple and the mac. With passion comes the occasional rift. Just like young passionate couples, those with more fire tend to love more and fight more. Its just the nature of the beast.
I agree that .mac has affected even many casual users, which has probably caused some irritation. However, many mac users I know weren’t even aware of iTools anyway.
Frankly, I don’t think we can define .mac or Jaguar’s pricing as the beginning of some great divide. OS 9 users will migrate to OS X when they either buy a new machine or need some piece of software that will not run on OS 9. Some users simply cannot migrate because of workflow requirements that OS X still cannot meet. It will all come together, but it will take years.
The problem is, there have always been still people who would never switch from Apple ][gs to Macintosh, and still are. Though there are so many more Mac users who aren’t compatible with Mac OS X than there are Apple ][gs users.
We are facing a huge dilemma here. Our loyalty to the Mac platform and software is threatened as we have to pay not only hardware upgrade costs, but software upgrade costs when OS X becomes the defacto OS for all Macs. Luckily the new towers will still boot into 9. But how many more revisions will this be possible?
re: Mac community unity
Although I didn’t become a Mac-head until after System 7 was released, I do recall the uproar around the switch from System 6 to System 7 - and it felt a lot like the uproar we’re hearing today.
This will pass and some users will remain angry and opinionated about the switch to OSX for a long time to come. Same goes for Apple charging us for the .Mac services. All of this will pass, life will continue and we’ll all use whatever computer platform pleases us most.
Progress marches on… sometimes with us, sometimes over us. Such is life.
I believe the dischord we are currently witnessing in the Mac community is result of a number of forces that together are making people a little nervous, uneasy, and uncomfortable.
First, the economic downturn we have been experiencing for well over a year now is taking its toll on people financially and emotionally. Money is tighter than it used to be so anything that appears to cost too much is getting all kinds of negative attention. People who don’t have money can’t afford some of Apple’s latest offerings and those with money are holding on to it tighter than before.
On a corporate level, many companies are struggling and are being forced to make some very tough financial decisions in the interest of appeasing stockholders and getting through the current crisis. Apple is no different than many other companies who have had to make adjustments to how they do business to weather the storm. Luckily, it appears Apple has been spared the necessity of taking even more drastic actions.
Connected to this is the health of Motorola as the primary supplier of the Macintosh’s microprocessor. Face it, they are in trouble. Motorola appears to be in panic mode trying to stop the profuse bleeding of money they are currently experiencing. Quarterly losses, layoffs galore, shrinking market share for many of their products…it’s no wonder they have fallen behind in processor development, especially when their focus is on processors for embedded systems and not personal computers. Hopefully, some of the new developments at IBM will assist in this area.
The Apple community is still very much in a state of transformation. We’re still working through the issues related to giving up classic MacOS and adopting MacOS X and integrating UNIX users into our fold. UNIX folks don’t have the history and feelings that many of us have about the Macintosh and often have the effect of casting a cold bright light into the dark corners of our relationship with Apple. (Personally, I think they have a more objective view than those of us who have been with Apple through thick and thin. Often they seem better able to recognize and admit the shortcomings that many of us old-timers tend to minimize and rationalize away.) MacOS X is still very much a work in progress with some rough edges that have yet to be smoothed away. Moving from the tried and true to the new and untested can be quite nerve-wracking in itself.
The Macintosh community is working hard to attract new users from other platforms and wants very much to succeed at increasing Apple’s market share. To do this, we need objective facts we can share with a potential “switcher” to lure them our way. Without the emotional connection that many of us feel for the Macintosh, “switchers” really only care about concrete cost vs. benefit, value, and quality arguments. It’s very hard to convince them to change with touchy-feely, sentimental, “Apple introduced the GUI and Microsoft ripped them off” arguments. With Apple holding back on using the latest and greatest technologies from the PC side (for whatever reason), it gets harder to make sound, objective arguments for the Mac and I think people get frustrated by it.
I don’t really see the community’s unity being threatened. What I see is a natural state of stage in the Mac community’s development as it struggles with some very big changes and important issues. What I hope will come out of this is a stronger, healthier, and more vital community with a clearer idea of why we choose to use Macintoshes that we can then better express to others.
Mac VS. Mac
:evil: I think it has something to do with the rumor sites being to forward looking. They make all the latest and greatest technologies come out looking like they will all be on the next Mac to be released. And when this doesn’t happen everyone who is a fool starts complaining and whining. People should take the rumor sites for what they are, just rumors. If some of the technologies come out for real they should be happy. If not they still shouldn’t get upset because it’s just a rumor. If we all took rumors as the very truth we would all be very dissappointed now wouldn’t we. Everyone needs to calm down and when they here or read about rumored technologies coming to the Mac. Take it for what it is with a grain of salt. A RUMOR! Nothing more.
So stop whining and support Apple as one of the best computer makers out there period.
As far as I’m concerned, the “Mac OS” is dead. For Jobs to even Call OS X “Mac OS” is blasphemy of the highest order. It’s Unix people - face it. If I wanted to run Unix I certainly wouldn’t do it on a $3,000 computer. I’d buy a totally tricked out PC for $400 and run Linux. My days of buying overpriced computers from Apple are over. I’m certainly not going to get rid of my upgraded Power Mac 8500 running oS 9.1, but I’m not interested in funding the Apple execs 401ks anymore!
I’m not sure what you’re Linux exposure is, but it is certainly no where near as user friendly as OS X. Linux is a great OS, but really only for geeks at the moment. OS X blends the familiar Mac OS with a Unix core. Apple is justified in calling their OS Mac OS X because it has brought the majority of the classic Mac GUI to the Unix masses.
I respect your love for OS 9. I use it everyday on my desk next to my OS X server, but OS X is the future and we all need to realise that Apple needs to move on from legacy code. OS 9 had gone as far as it could. If Apple would have kept it going much longer they would have lost any leads they still had left.
Not with this type of marketing (see below)
If the Switch campaign was just the starting shot, here’s the next round from Apple:
WSJ: Apple to introduce $200 family pricing
Walt Mossberg reviews the new wide-screen iMac and Jaguar, concluding that “Jaguar is a big step forward for the Mac, and continues the effort to differentiate Apple’s operating system from Windows XP. In my view, it’s worth the price.” He also notes that Apple will be introducing $199 family version that can be legally installed on up to five computers.