Tuesday, January 28, 2003 [Tweets] [Favorites]


Adam Zaner informed me that Glenn McDonald has switched. In his inspiring essay, McDonald gets at the essence of the Macintosh experience: that computing can be joyful.

Not only did I buy a PowerBook, but I got a big second monitor for it, and a wireless-networking base-station, and an iPod, and a small arsenal of gadgets whose purpose is not obvious from looking at them. And then I bought my sister an iMac, too, and we’ll see what it takes to convince my parents. What began as a relatively harmless idea about checking email and watching DVDs in a hotel room has become an upheaval in my belief system, and turned me into a zealot about one more topic. I have Switched. If computers have not been the central mechanical forces in your entire daily adult life, like they have been in mine, maybe you think I just sound geeky when I say this, but I’m telling you there is a real revolution underway.


The bouncing icons (and the puffs of smoke and the pipe-organ speech synthesizer and the way dialogs tidily resize and the drop-shadows on the windows and the jellybean buttons and the eject key on the keyboard) are not individually rationalizable on utilitarian grounds, and they do not pretend they mean to be. They are there to, in aggregate, change the nature of your relationship with the device. They are joyful, and they hope their joy is infectious. The more you use a Mac, and the more of its secrets you learn (and the bizarre truth is that although simple tasks are designed to be much simpler on the Mac than on a PC, the Mac is also much more deeply and pervasively capable of being tweaked and customized and automated and shortcutted), the more you will like it. This is exactly, radically, totally the opposite of what happens in Windows, where every damn thing you learn after the first ten minutes will make you hate it more and more violently.


To use the Mac is to be confronted, over and over, with the idea that the most mundane task can be done artfully and compassionately, beautifully and invitingly.


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