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Mac users created, not born?

Jay Savage

By this time it is a well-worn cliché that there are 10 kinds of personal computer users: those that get this joke, and those that don't Mac users and PC users. For the most part, we, particularly Mac users, want to see this distinction as personality-driven. We chose Macs because we're creative, rebellious, cutting-edge, or, if we believe the ads, just plain cool. To the PC world, we're ridiculous spendthrifts, wasting our money on overpriced hardware that dooms us to a life of marginalization and incompatibility.

Personally, I see it as matter of genetic superiority. In a race for survival of the fittest, Mac users will win every time. We're infinitely adaptable. We're used to a constantly changing OS and set of core applications that we further rearrange with scores of hacks and utilities. The majority of PC users, on the other hand, got lost when Microsoft moved the "Programs" item from the middle of the "Start" menu in Win95/95/2k to the bottom of the "Start" menu in XP, and added a green arrow. The outcry against the ribbon interface in the new Office betas--the most innovative and useful UI modification to come out of Redmond in years--was so strong that the developers were forced to remove it. Meanwhile most Mac users are not only coping with OS X's mutability, but keeping up with PCs on the side; the fraction of Mac users who use only Macs is pretty small.

Chris over at Restiffbard, though, sees things differently. He's decided that it's the OS that makes the user, not the other way around. For him, it all comes down to the functionality of a single interface button: the maximize button. On Windows, you can't easily resize a window larger to a 'best fit' like Mac OS X can. Sure you can drag the bottom corner, but it's much easier to just hit maximize and go full screen. This leads to Windows users becoming task-oriented users by default. For Mac users, on the other hand, it's difficult do get a full-screen window in most applications. The green "+" button resizes the window to the size of the document, not the screen. This means that Mac users almost always have multiple windows and application visible. We can switch easily between them and, probably more importantly, they're always there, reminding us of their existence, nagging us. We naturally become multi-taskers.

I'm not sure how much of this I buy. I mean, really: are you going to tell me that you can take any old group of PC users in front of Macs for a couple of years and they'll just naturally become as cool as me, or Steve in a bowtie? I don't think so.

But it's an interestingly fresh take on a decades-old question.


if (($tongue{'position'} eq 'cheek') or ($sarcasm > 0)) {
$tongue{'position'} = 'notcheek';
$sarcasm = 0;
print <<END

Guys, check the categories, you'll see "Humor" and "Cult of Mac." No, I don't really think Mac users are genetically superior. And I don't think I'm nearly as cool as that pic of Steve in a bowtie. In fact, I don't think Steve is as cool as that pic of Steve in a bowtie. In fact, I don't think anyone is as cool as that pic of Steve in a bowtie. Ok, maybe Woz, but that's about it.

And just for the record, I don't think those of us who were weaned on Macs are cooler than "Switchers," or anyone else. If I'm cooler than you, it's just because I was born that way. :p~


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