The Arrogance of the Mac
Sunday, November 10, 1996 by Dave Winer.
We're reviewing virtually everything in our code base as we take it apart and put it back together as a cross-platform system. One of the things we're seriously considering is dropping our table editor and replacing it with a new kind of outliner. No promises, but we're looking at this very closely.
Look and feel issues come up! Oh boy. Look at Windows. The whole thing is an outliner. Look at the Registry. Powerful stuff. Anyway, like the Mac, they have their own idea of what an outline looks like. The + and - leader characters are a throwback to ThinkTank. They worked well then, but I like graphic wedges better nowadays.
I think the vertical split in each Windows outline, where the elements of a Directory are displayed in another window pane, is a dead-end. Unfortunately all Windows software seems to have gone down that road.
What to do? Should we have a different look for outlines on the Mac and Windows, or have a universal cross-platform look? This is an interesting question, since I think I understand outlines better than the designers of either of these operating systems. Oh. Oooops.
Could be a problem!
From www.dictionary.com, arrogance is "a feeling of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptuous claims."
Flipping thru the 11/05/96 issue of MacWEEK. A full-page ad for Intercon Systems. Black background, white letters. Page 19.
A puzzling headline. "We've created the easiest way ever for Mac users to connect with the world of Windows. Sorry."
Huh? Why are they sorry?
The body text explains. "Despite what you've heard, Windows users aren't evil. They just don't know any better. PC people aren't the enemy, they're simply in dire need of the vast wisdom of the Macintosh community."
This makes me feel sick. My stomach gets queasy. My hands ache. My neck tightens. What can you do about such nasty arrogance? Of all the things that need fixing in the Mac community, this is the biggest. Windows isn't broken! Of course Windows users are not evil. What an idea. They don't know any better? Oh man. What rock did the jerk who wrote this ad crawl out from under?
The Intercon message is deliberately disrespectful. They paid money to get that message in front of hundreds of thousands of people! Amazing.
Try substituting women for Windows users. Or Jew or Negro or Bosnian or Serb. I wonder if anyone has actually done a study. Are Windows users more likely to go to jail for child abuse? Are Mac users more likely to go to heaven? Let's get a life.
If you care, next time you hear a Mac user talk this way, tell them how it makes you feel. Point them to this piece if you want. This arrogance has to stop now.
Respect means "to show consideration for, avoid intruding on or interfering with." The dictionary has a lot to say about respect. It derives from Latin, to look at, look back on. To respect someone you acknowledge their existence. To show disrespect is to push away, to simplify, to ignore. To show a deliberate lack of consideration for others.
Let's look at why Mac users should respect Windows users. First, in many ways their operating system is more powerful than the Mac OS. There are a lot of features in Windows that I've wished for in the Macintosh. The logic of Windows is totally open and subject to modification by the user or sysadmin.
But features aren't the most compelling reason to respect Windows and all that it represents. We must respect it simply because it exists. It's a growing platform, they are moving. Windows 3.0 was a shell on DOS, a competent one, but not really comparable to the Macintosh. Even Microsoft people acknowledge this.
Then came Windows 95, and NT 4.0, which brought Windows to parity-plus, and created the opportunity for Windows apps to do the same kind of stuff that the Mac development community had been doing with System 7.
And Microsoft has woken to the web, and is moving their operating system to places that the Mac OS *may* be moving assuming everything goes right at Apple. But at the very best, the Mac OS will trail Windows in important areas. Don't miss this.
The arrogance of the Mac, in 1996, is so uninformed, so inaccurate. Mac users may look to the past for glory, but in the future, you'll have more feature-envy than glory if you have the courage to look.
Even so, I don't admit that Windows dominates the Mac. I don't see anything I can't do on my Mac that I can do on my Dell clone. I don't hit deal-stoppers. As a Mac user I don't feel dominated. Maybe others do, but I don't.
The Windows community should respect the Mac because it exists. Millions of people use Macs. There will be reasons to use a Mac for many years to come. The split really serves no one. It's time to heal the wound. So many misunderstandings. So many wreckless people, on both sides. We've got to get them to stop speaking for us.
From people I respect in the Windows community, comes the message that when our web tools arrive on Windows we'll have trouble getting people to look at them because they "come from the Mac". So the fear exists on the other side too.
The truth -- the web is where it's happening -- and websites are LANs. You can intermix hardware and software, choose the best tools for all kinds of applications and users. The limits came down, no one was looking, because everyone was watching the wizzy tools. But today you can mix hardware and software. If you won't look at Mac solutions or Windows solutions, you will lose if your competitors have the courage you lack.
A Windows product is a Windows product. Judge each on its own merit. Lots of great things have come to Windows from the Mac. Certainly there's room for more software on Windows, no matter what platform it originated on?
It's becoming clear how unfinished the Java environment is. How much it needs our help. But we get the old-time arrogance from many Java proponents.
From an old friend comes the message that I should let him know when all my software has been converted to Java. Wow! Such blind faith in a language. Unreal. My response: if I wait for you to catch up with me, I'll wait five years. And by then my software will be irrelevent.
They lecture us on how to make better software. Where's the evidence that they know how to make commercial software? So far most of the Java stuff I've seen is pretty unattractive or slow or incomplete.
Firmly myopic, many Java people have the blinders so totally installed that they can't see the value in anything that's not-Java. This will come back to haunt them. It's a baby community. They need to connect with other communities, not dictating terms, but asking for friendship and offering respect. A little humility, please! Let's be friends. OK?
Other people are so religious. They don't know any better. They are not evil, they just need our guidance. We're smarter than they are. We see what they can't. The air we breathe is richer.
See if you can agree with this statement.
People who use computers are smart.