Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Mac v PC, with extra Eco

So Slate did a featurette on their forums' responses to the negative review of the current line of Apple ads. Of the responses, this one caught my eye:
The beauty of the spots is that they're NOT mean spirited. The Windows guy isn't a villian. He's a nice guy, but he's a bit nerdy. He's a buttoned-up business guy (maybe because 99% of businesses are running Windows?) The Mac guy is all about cool media stuff (music, photos, videos) because Apple has spectacularly simple, elegant applications for these.

The Mac brand is young, hip and fashionable. The PC brand is... oh wait, there isn't one.
There really can't be a PC "brand" per se. There can be a Dell brand, a Thinkpad brand, etc. But what I find most amusing about this poster's sentiment is that he thinks that having a cool brand is an objective indicator of quality, sufficient to throw in the "oh wait," joke. Is there any doubt this guy's a Mac user?

The other thing I wanted to note is that when I posted about the original Slate piece, Scarlet Panda commented a link to a Wired story about Mac's cultishness. That article references a piece from 1994 on Mac vs. PC by, of all people, Umberto Eco. The most complete extract from which seems to be here.

The essay* offers a comparison of Mac and PCs in religious terms, suggesting that Mac's are Catholic and PC's are Protestant. This is notable because, 1-Umberto Eco is weighing in on a debate that was once exclusive to 2400 baud BBSers (and even then it was a religious war), 2-The bastard is technically accurate enough to phrase the distinction as being "between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers," which was the most technically correct way, in 1994, of phrasing the distinction. Macs are, after all, Personal Computers.

Finally, I must note that I've only seen one or two of these ads (and one of those was a flash online version), so I'm not totally familiar with all of the campaign. I've seen very few of these because I don't watch much TV. Quite frankly, TV is beneath me. It's better suited to mouth-breathing philistines, I find. "The Glass Teat" and whatnot.

*The piece begins with Eco cheekily urging censorship of the Italian press from discussing certain subjects: "Each censored topic is followed by an alternative in brackets which is just as futile, but rich with the potential for polemic. Whether Joyce is boring (whether reading Thomas Mann gives one erections)."


Fishfrog said...

As someone who uses both a Mac PC and a Windows-compatible PC, I feel like I'm am above the fray. I'm a lot like Jesus, but not in a sacreligious way (to quote Homer Simpson).

By the way, it has always bugged me that "PC" refers only to the Windows (and formerly DOS compatible) computers. I'm glad you articulated it.

Jo said...

I first read the Umberto Eco when it came out, and almost died laughing. It was in the Utne Reader, which is a pretty damn smug publication that I could only stomach for a while. It was worth it, though, just for that one read.

I'm a diehard Mac user, always have been. My parents actually purchased the very first Macintosh and I'll never forget how amazing the "mouse" was...

I'm also Catholic. Since I read the essay, I've understood my computer choices more fully, and feel justified in them.

Any ideas where you can get the whole essay? I've always wanted to share it with my mom.

Thanks for the discussion!