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Carl and the Two Guys

Monday, July 21, 1997 by Dave Winer.

I've been emailing with Carl from Symantec, the man whose mail I quoted in Attacks, 7/17/97. Now I see that he's a reasonable and responsible person with a beautiful sense of humor and a balanced perspective. I admire Carl's courage, intelligence and passion. He challenges me. Thank you.

Carl hasn't asked for an apology and I totally appreciate that. I think we both had a strong positive experience. I learned a lot, felt a bunch of pain, and grew through it.

My anger was evoked. I felt pinned down. I felt invaded and protective.

The experience changed me.

A fresh perspective Permalink to A fresh perspective

Last week I was getting hundreds of emails, many of which were very personal. Carl's message was just one of them. I've been flamed before and wrote about it. This time I wanted to provide a concrete example of such an email. I wanted my readers to see what it looks like.

Carl's email was not an extreme example, and it was emotional and emotive. It was a beautiful message when viewed from a fresh perspective, outside my point of view of last week.

Friendship Permalink to Friendship

Let's heal our wounds. I don't care if you use a Mac or used to use a Mac, I can play with anyone who uses a web browser. The web is just a LAN. The differences between platforms matter less and less. Carl and I can work on Macs, others can use Unix or NT or Windows 95 or Be or Rhapsody or whatever might come down the road.

Carl you're my brother. I love your passion. I love what you do. I agree, let's be nice to each other. Let's enable each other's creativity instead of paralyzing each other in fear. I'll keep saying what I have to say, and I'll keep listening to you. That's what friendship and brotherhood are all about.

Nice things Permalink to Nice things

Carl asks that I say some nice things about the Mac, its developers, users and the platform vendor. I can do that. And I can also take it somewhere that I think would further the healing. Read on...

Some of my best friends are Mac developers. My admiration for them is a constant theme in DaveNet. And some of the most creative people in the world use Macs. And many who used to use Macs have fond memories of those days. There's a lot of goodwill for the Mac in the world. Let's acknowledge that.

We give a lot of our pain to Apple, and that's not appropriate. Apple is just a company. They make boxes with chips inside. They are very good boxes! I use their computers. Thank you Apple, seriously.

A long road Permalink to A long road

But Apple is also a myth. The two guys in a garage. The 1984 ad. We won't be assimilated. We are not mindless, we are creative. It was a great rallying cry back then.

My view of Apple has always been from the outside, I've never worked at the company. I ported software from from Unix to CP/M to the Apple II, then to the IBM PC, then to the Mac and now to Win32. A long road with lots of platforms; even so, there hasn't been a day since 1979 that I wasn't invested, at times with all my assets, in software built around Apple's products.

A long road. At times I worked with Apple people toward a common goal, and at times we were bitter adversaries. A mixed experience. In March of this year I did a project with about a dozen Apple people. They opened my eyes. Sweet wonderful people. We could finish each other's sentences, there were areas in which we were in total agreement, on the same side, ready to play.

But there was also a gap, old wounds and misunderstandings that hadn't healed. I had never met these people, but it turns out that some had played invisible roles in my struggle with Apple in the early 90s. Then the layoffs came and all of my new friends were gone. There was no time to learn how to work together.

I learned that there was and probably still is intelligence, grace, elegance and generosity inside Apple. But the inside story of Apple is also one of frustration. A perennial ladder of unconsciousness and unconnected intelligence and intent and committment.

At the field level, in the programmer's offices and evangelism there were people with passion in their eyes. But there was fear and greed too. The fear stopped them from acknowledging Microsoft and others. The greed caused people to work for personal glory, not for the empowerment of Mac users and developers.

The myth of two guys Permalink to The myth of two guys

At its core Apple is the myth of the two guys in a garage, believing in themselves and empowering others. It's the imagery of the 1984 ad, us versus them, a position that helped Apple revive in the mid-eighties, but stood in the way of the Macintosh as Windows became popular.

Now the myth of the two guys is in our way. In my life, never has a myth so much needed to be exploded. Look at all the important fun work we have to do. Upgrading the web. Keeping free speech free. Making sure creativity isn't stifled by Microsoft's power. Everyone has a stake in these things. The Mac and its community can play a role, but only if we let go of the two-guys myth and acknowledge that our power comes from ourselves and each other, not from Jobs and Wozniak.

A repeated story Permalink to A repeated story

The myth also pervades Microsoft, JavaSoft and Netscape. The myth of the heroes, Gates, Kapor, Andreessen, Gosling, Ellison, Joy. These are just real people who can never achieve our ambitions for them. The press inflates the images, I don't know why, and the people try to fill the images. Some users believe and are let down. What pressure!

I've seen this effect spoil many lives. I've seen people ask for it, and get it. It's even killed people. We can forgive the icons for seeking our admiration. And they can stop asking for it.

The root of our pain Permalink to The root of our pain

I believe the root of our pain is the two guys myth. Jobs and Wozniak are still alive. They could let us go, set us free, tell the truth clearly. The garage has been gone for a long time, if it ever existed (only they know). They could believe in our freedom and thereby gain their own. No new operating system is needed, no acquisition or dissolution.

We just need a new mission, a new place in the world. We do not revolve around the Mac and we never will. It's not going to happen. Let it go. The revolution is over. Let's use our computers and focus on creativity, not on the deification of the two guys or the company they started so long ago.

A time for kindness Permalink to A time for kindness

The two guys were powerful young men, and now they're powerful mature men. It's time for kindness. We're living out their struggle, the whole computer world feels it, the press writes about it. The struggle between the two guys becomes the division between large numbers of good people.

Right now, at this point in time, there's no CEO at Apple to protect. It's the perfect time to tell the truth. It would set the stage for a new CEO to get on with business, remove the burden of supporting the myth, and allow Apple, its users and developers, to find new relevence in the different world of the late 90s.

This is exactly the time to think about Apple and heal its wounds. A fluid situation. Many lessons to learn. Few people to protect.

A hug and a handshake and a confident smile, forgiveness and brotherhood. Steve and Steve are icons, but they are also just people. I bet it would be a relief to them to let go of the struggle and get on with their contribution to freedom and friendship and making the world a better place.

If you agree Permalink to If you agree

If you agree, this one time, please do not send me or anyone else email. There's been too much thoughtless and hurtful email. Make a contribution to breaking the cycle.

Be thoughtful, go on with your life, be kind to yourself and everyone else, and be confident that you can do whatever you want to do, use whatever kind of computer you want to use, be friends with whoever you choose to be friends with.

Please respect other people's power, and love them for their struggles, passions and uniqueness.


Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."