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Phaedrus
Jan 21, 2002, 03:01 AM
This is a quote I got from an article by Lucas Hauser's at mired.com

'"This is why we do what we do," Steve finally says, yet again, with a tear in his eye, after showing us the 300th photo of a drooling baby. Steve, you used to be cool. Macs were about changing the world and eliminating the bourgeoisie. Now it’s about yuppie parents fawning over digital representations of their progeny. What happened to you, man?'


While I don't share Hauser's bitterness, or his antipathy to children, does anyone else ever long for those old days when Apple claimed that the personal computer's "pièce de résistance" would be nothing less than a revolution in the social order? I refer to the Steve Jobs who dropped acid, meditated in India, hacked Ma Bell, and evisioned the first Mac as a counter-hegemonic tool. Is anyone else nostalgic for the lean, scrappy, ideological Steve, buried under that domesticated, ideologically quiescent, pudgy-jawed visage?

Eesh! I've spoken too harshly. I like Jobs and I like Apple and the new, more human-centric, imac. I like UNIX for the common man. I like what I can do with firewire and DV. I was just being nostalgic. . . .

mischief
Jan 21, 2002, 02:46 PM
SSSSSHHHHHHHH!!! Don't spoil it. Let them think it's all about Photo Albums. If it gets A mac in 1 in 10 homes, so be it.

chicagdan
Jan 21, 2002, 03:49 PM
There's been an interesting progression through the years. Apple started as the tool for the empowered individual (PCs instead of mainframes.)

It then morphed into the tool for the creative individual (Macs instead of DOS for desktop publishing.)

Then it became the symbol of rebellious good taste (the whole Think Different campaign.)

Now it's the machine that makes you a smarter digital consumer (digital hub -- iPod, iMovie, etc.)

Apple didn't change so much as the culture changed. Who dreams of writing a great novel or making a great film anymore? We're all just consumers and the only way we distinguish ourselves is by being more astute consumers, more willing to leave the mainstream, accept the experimental.

You can't blame Apple for following the tide. But you should be saddened by what happened. Entertainment is killing art, commerce is killing social reform. If the Mac had a political mission, it failed.

Mr. Anderson
May 9, 2002, 09:28 AM
I had to resurect this one, a more intellectual 'Mac and ....' thread. When I was doing a search on the theme, this is the last thing I expected to find. It really does give me pause though, thinking about how Apple has changed over the past decades.

Anyone else got any thoughts?

eyelikeart
May 9, 2002, 09:33 AM
I see his points....but u gotta realize that "selling out" is not always a bad thing....for the company anyway...

Apple needs to corner a market....the creative industry for the most part thrives on Macintosh...but they need more...

I say....if they can make things happen for them by extending to the family market then by all means do so...

maybe their stock value will increase? :D ;)

Mr. Anderson
May 9, 2002, 09:41 AM
Originally posted by eyelikeart
I see his points....but u gotta realize that "selling out" is not always a bad thing....for the company anyway...

Apple needs to corner a market....the creative industry for the most part thrives on Macintosh...but they need more...

I say....if they can make things happen for them by extending to the family market then by all means do so...

Its not just a matter of selling out but branching out. With the digital hub, Apple is going to make itself a key figure in home computing, where everything is managed on the computer. What about the rumors of the set top box from Apple? By hooking something up to record and manage your TV shows, using QT6 technology, who wouldn't want one?

No, I think its the right way to go. Nostalgia be damned.

Backtothemac
May 9, 2002, 10:03 AM
Do I miss those daze.... In a word....No! ;)

eyelikeart
May 9, 2002, 10:18 AM
Originally posted by dukestreet


Its not just a matter of selling out but branching out. With the digital hub, Apple is going to make itself a key figure in home computing, where everything is managed on the computer. What about the rumors of the set top box from Apple? By hooking something up to record and manage your TV shows, using QT6 technology, who wouldn't want one?

No, I think its the right way to go. Nostalgia be damned.

I realize that...I use the term "selling out" to angle more towards those who feel Steve's gotten soft and Apple isn't doing what they are "supposed" to be about...as Phaedrus stated at least anyway...

I feel the digital hub is the key to the future for Apple. No one has really cornered all aspects of media & communcations as Apple is doing presently. The set top box idea I think would be a (and I'm quoting mischief here so forgive me if it's spelled incorrectly) "Mahvelous!" If Apple continues to head in this direction, I wouldn't be surprised to see the market share shift a bit...he he he :D

no worries Duke....I'm all about nostalgia...but damnit...this is IT is it not?!

drastik
May 9, 2002, 11:11 AM
I dunno....

The lean and Mean Steve was pretty cool, and I think that a lot of people still see Apple as a kind of rebellion. Everybody gets older, Steve cut his hair, Woz owned sports teams, its just the natural progression of things.

Although, most of the big Mac heads I know ate a lot of acid before they got real jobs, so maybe thats the key:D

eyelikeart
May 9, 2002, 11:20 AM
Originally posted by drastik
Although, most of the big Mac heads I know ate a lot of acid before they got real jobs, so maybe thats the key:D

I thought everyone thought that...I'm sure jef could confirm it...

he always has something to say about the "lifestyle" out there...he he he :D

3rdpath
May 9, 2002, 01:10 PM
selling isn't the same thing as selling out.

many great ideas are born out of the drive to be counter-culture. the irony is that culture changes and what was counter becomes mainstream once it is embraced. it happens in music all the time.

to lament steve's mainstream position is to not accept that he had his fight-- and won.

he did change the world.

:)

eyelikeart
May 9, 2002, 01:18 PM
I only used that phrase as a stereotype to address the first post in this thread...

I do not feel that Apple is selling out by any stretch. They are simply doing what they need to do to succeed in this industry. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!!

I applaud Apple for the progression in the past year. Yes they are slacking a bit on the professional line systems...but they are doing things that no other computer maker is doing...hardware & software!! ;)

jefhatfield
May 9, 2002, 02:41 PM
apple has always been bad at business practices and that lends kind of a counterculture vibe to them today

no one calls apple greedy which is a label a lot of "good" businesses ultimately get tagged with:)

Phaedrus
May 10, 2002, 12:11 AM
I am pleased that dukestreet has “resurrected” my thread. In the wake of the changes that took place on this site a few months ago, I, a newbie, lost the privilege of starting new threads (as far as I can tell). As many of my concerns are more political than technical, I don’t often find a thread in which my musings seem appropriate. So generally I play the voyeur. Since this thread has been given a new life, at least temporarily, I would like to offer some further comments that are pragmatic as well as hopeful. I’m sure I will come off as the sort of man who, rarely having a chance to speak, when he finally gets one says too much. Just so I don’t overwhelm anyone, I have divided my ramblings into three separate posts, with different (albeit not unrelated) topics: 1) Microsoft’s possible strategic and tactical responses to the success of OS X; 2) Microsoft’s ideological appeals to conservative legislators, regulators, and the American Heartland; and, 3) the Open Source community and it’s ambivalent relation to Apple.

I am no hacker; and I am not an IT person. While I do use my computer for work, I spend all of my time within the downy folds of Apple’s GUI. I have heard the term, “computational humanist.” That is what I am--your average technical illiterate who takes an interest in Open Source out of curiosity and a concern for the future of information. I am also a dedicated Mac user who supports Apple on both aesthetic and political grounds. I hope what follows is more useful than my original "nostalgic" rant.

Phaedrus
May 10, 2002, 12:14 AM
If MS finds itself forced to capitulate to UNIX (not a wild scenario at all), what better way to do so than to weaken Apple in the process. By investing in MACH and FreeBSD technologies, Apple is cavorting with willful companions who might very well find other commercial harbors on the desktop. MS, on the other hand, so to speak, put its OS in a pumpkin shell (pardon the pun), and there it has kept it very well. If Apple’s UNIX-based OS were ever to become a serious threat to Microsoft’s OS, why wouldn’t Microsoft aide one of Apple’s UNIX competitors? Microsoft would only have to reason along venerable strategic lines, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I would think that if Microsoft finds that it cannot quash UNIX, it would take whatever actions it could to prevent a single commercially viable desktop UNIX-based OS (to wit, OS X) from threatening the position of its own OS.

In other words, in such a scenario it would be in Microsoft’s interest to put as many UNIX competitors on the field as possible (by porting apps to them) so that it could maintain its claim to possess an integrated alternative to a confusing array of UNIX-based offerings. Through its (ending) legal agreement with Apple and its nonbinding “commitment” to continue development of Mac versions of it’s Office suite and web browser, Microsoft has shown that it is capable of a strategic complexity beyond its mere brute-force gestures. Microsoft’s current Apple strategy: “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” But if Apple were seriously to threaten Microsoft’s OS position, Microsoft might change that strategy to “divide and conquer.” If Apple were truly to jeopardize Microsoft’s OS market share, Microsoft could counter by flooding the market with application ports to Linux, FreeBSD, etc., with the intent of fracturing the Open Source coalition behind OS X that Apple is attempting to build.

The history of telephony is instructive. In the early years of the 20th century, New York City businesses needed half-a-dozen different telephones on their desks--owned by as many different telcos--to access the entire city, since competing phone companies had split up the service territory. In response, the federal government declared Bell Telephone to be a “natural monopoly,” giving it exclusive rights to provide service (a state of affairs that ended only in the 1980’s with the “modification of final judgment” in federal court). If Apple were to begin to take considerable market share away from Microsoft, it would be in Microsoft’s best interest to see, so to speak, that there are five or six telephones on the desk rather than two. MS would not be so bold to admit such publicly, but I would imagine that it sees itself as a “natural monopoly,” after the fashion of Ma Bell. If the U. S. government adopts .Net services, it will have tacitly approved of MS’s status as such (c.f., the Justice department’s endorsement of MS’s proposed remedy).

Phaedrus
May 10, 2002, 12:17 AM
The Republican Party, at the risk of oversimplification, is made up of pro-business conservatives, traditional-values conservatives, and libertarians. The interests of these three factions do not always align. The media conglomerates are friendly to MS since it does not seem hostile to their draconian policies on copyright infringement--you don’t hear any “Rip, Mix, Burn” rhetoric coming from Redmond. Of course the media conglomerates have a tenuous relationship to congressional Republicans. The pro-business faction is friendly to them; but the other two factions are not. Traditional-values conservatives hold the media conglomerates responsible for “glorifying the homosexual lifestyle,” the “liberal press,” “gangster rap,” and the decimation of “family values.” And libertarian or certain “small government” types suspect that the conglomerates’ attempts to cozy up to Congress and federal regulators will lead to larger and more intrusive government.

MS has made peace with two of these three factions. By conforming its product line and its politics to the interests of the media conglomerates (i.e., there is no MS “ipod”; MS does not oppose Senator Fritz Holling’s CBPDPA bill) it demonstrates goodwill to the pro-business types. MS curries favor with the traditional-values advocates by presenting a corporate image that is squarely mid-American. A Wintel machine today is like a Frigidaire in the 1950’s, a commodity appliance that no home should be without. Microsoft is careful to distance itself from the sort of “revolutionary” rhetoric that Apple embraced early on (e.g., in its “1984” ad). Gates himself plays the pinpoint-oxford yuppie geek to Job’s black-turtle-neck clad auteur.

Apple offers a counter-cultural objet d'art, one that is perhaps a bit too risque for mid-American, bourgeois sensibilities. Consider the first new imac TV ad, which plays on a sort of interethnic eroticism by showing an African-American male comparing tongues with the anthropomorphized, super-white imac (the latter’s “tongue,” of course, is its protruding Superdrive tray). Insofar as this “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” encounter between man and machine indexes ethnicity, desire, and techno-fetishism, it seems that Apple is still willing to play the provocateur. Having lived in Tennessee, Texas, and now Ohio, it’s obvious to me that the boundary violations in this ad, however subtle, and however appealing to bourgeois elites on the coasts, will not play well with “family values” types, especially in the South and in the conservative Midwest.

MS, on the other hand, has made itself so “family-values” friendly that more than one observer has noticed that the people icons in its new OS look like those sexless “Playschool” brand dolls. Doubtless MS makes a mountain of money in its home market from white men under the age of forty who want to download porn or play hyper-violent video games (through sales of its OS, its PC gaming peripherals, and its gaming console), but you’d never know how important that demographic was from its family-friendly, and “new-conservative multicultural,” advertising.

Where MS has its problems with the Right is with the libertarian types. This group represents the intelligentsia of the Republican Party, and it is as wary of MS becoming another Ma Bell as it is of the media conglomerates and their regulatory stooges leading the country into a digital Gilded Era. I think that those of us on the Left have to recognize where our interests overlap with at least these sorts of conservatives.

Phaedrus
May 10, 2002, 12:21 AM
Jordan Hubbard (formerly of the FreeBSD Core Team, now of FreeDarwin and Apple) described the Open Source community’s perception of itself as that of “ants” who would eventually sting the Redmond “Goliath” to death. When he reviewed OS X in its initial release, Hubbard reckoned that to take down the “Goliath,” the “ants” would need the leverage provided by a “David” (Apple & its new OS).

The Open Source community is not very “ant-like.” Ants live in structured colonies with a clear line of command and strict specialization (the product, of course, of instinct, not organizational theory or historical dialectics). The Open Source community, from what I gather, is hardly such a “colony.” In his recent letter of resignation to the FreeBSD Core team (I think this is where I read it), Hubbard compared the Open Source Community (or the FreeBSD Core Team in particular, I forget which) to the Polish parliament before WWII, whose members argued divisively up until the very moment German Panzers rolled through and made their arguments “moot.”

Indeed, I would suggest, the Redmond “Goliath” is much more of an ant colony, as is any organization of its kind, which is to say, any modern bureaucratic organization (in the Weberian sense) with a hierarchy of departments, scaler lines of command, and Taylorist, Fordist, modes of production. When you think Microsoft, think of the old General Motors, or again, perish the thought, Ma Bell. Unlike a true Goliath, such entities do not present a weakness by virtue of the sheer size and immobility of the target they present. Indeed, in contemporary management parlance, they seem almost infinitely robust, with a high level of internal redundancy and holography that allows them to suffer injury without the failure of the entire organization. In terms of the Davidic analogy, a single well-aimed “stone” is not sufficient.

Turning to Hubbard’s "parliamentary" analogy, I think that the different factions of the Open Source community would be well-served, so to speak, by forming a coalition not unlike the various fringe parties do in any European parliamentary government. In such governments, the fringe parties align themselves with a more mainstream party in order to avoid the victory of a competing mainstream party deemed by the fringe to be the greater of mainstream evils. The most prominent factions in the Open Source community, it seems to me, are like Italian communists in the 1930’s, who, by refusing to align with the Left-of-Center, mainstream Christian Democrats on grounds of ideological purity, allowed the Fascists to form a government. Of course only the fringe of the fringe would find a fitting analog between Microsoft and Fascism, and I do not mean to imply here that Microsoft is ideologically anything like the Italian Fascist party of the 1940’s. I intend the analogy to hold in a structural sense only. In my analogy, of course, Apple is the Christian Democrat party--mainstream, but, again, the lesser of Centrist evils.


It remains to be seen if those Open Source advocates who reject OS X will ultimately find (not unlike Italian communists in the 1930’s and 40’s) that the broad, sunlit uplands of their networked world, with its unrestricted travel for those with the UNIX visa, has fallen to .Net hegemony; or instead, if they will find themselves, like some contemporary Greens, International Socialists, et al., after the last US presidential election, in a world much the same as before, congratulating themselves that they made deals with no devil. In any case, those who are like me, the Mac-using “computational humanists” of the world (along with technically-literate Mac users), ignore the activities of the Open Source vanguard at our peril.

Phaedrus
May 10, 2002, 12:23 AM
Currently, the battle between MS and Open Source is playing out in some interesting ways in Peru. I offer the following link, which everyone should read since it is relevant to our North American democracies as well. The link (from The Register) is to a letter written by a Peruvian Congressman (Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nunez) to the head of Microsoft Peru. I think each of us should read this letter and send a copy of it to his or her congresspersons, before we find ourselves having to do business with a .Net dominated government.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/25157.html

Viva el Mac!

jefhatfield
May 10, 2002, 11:16 AM
Originally posted by Phaedrus
The Republican Party, at the risk of oversimplification, is made up of pro-business conservatives, traditional-values conservatives, and libertarians.

being a democrat, i am happy about this

the republicans remind me of dr. laura, pat buchannan, and rush lumbaugh all trying to "just get along" and equally share the mike...ha:D