O’Reilly Network managing editor Derrick Story is a long time Mac user who is interested in how Mac OS X is affecting the Mac community. His exploration started last year with an article entitled
The New Mac User
and it continues today with another called
The Changing Mac Community.
Story noted that following MacCentral’s coverage of his November story, he saw more than 500 e-mails from users who chimed in with their own thoughts about how Mac OS X stood to affect the Mac world. Now he’s ready to share his thoughts.
Story said that Mac OS X’s UNIX underpinnings have “broadened the landscape” of the Mac community by involving, and in many cases, re-involving, UNIX experts that bring a different set of skills to bear than many folks who have stuck by the platform in recent years.
This has, to some extent, bifurcated the Mac community into very technically minded folks and folks who are less concerned about command line interfaces and terminal windows, according to Story. “When I was a kid, my Mom used to combine the partially filled boxes of Rice Krispies and Special K into one container to save room in the cupboard. Yuck. Now many long time Mac users feel like their Rice Krispies have been invaded too,” he said.
Story lays at least some of the responsibility for this change at the feet of Steve Jobs, who picked up a liking for UNIX at NeXT. “Truly he was the prodigal son who explored the world and developed a passion for Unix,” said Story.
Ultimately, though, Story thinks that this mix of the old and new guard, technogeeks and artisans will all gel together. “As this talent comes together –both traditional and new, artist and geek — it will create a powerful force that the computing world has never seen before. And if you think the Mac has been cool in the past, well, buckle up,” Story said.
Story also documented some of the feedback he’d received from respondents to his earlier article. The comments run the full gamut. There are complaints from long-time Mac designers; compliments from UNIX users and Windows people; violent opposition from some Mac die-hards; and many other analyses and remarks about Apple’s OS strategy.
Since Story wrote his article and solicited feedback from Mac users old and new, much has changed in the Mac world. In the intervening months, Apple has introduced a radically redesigned flat-panel iMac that features a G4 processor, and Power Mac G4s with speeds at 1GHz (in a dual processor configuration, to boot). Apple has also made Mac OS X the default operating system on new iMacs and Power Mac G4s, which can be argued helps to force the hand of new Mac owners that might otherwise stick with Mac OS 9.2. Adobe Systems Inc. has announced the forthcoming release of a Mac OS X-native Photoshop; and myriad companies have come out with new and improved versions of Mac OS X-native applications and software.
These points certainly aren’t lost on Story, who remembered the bad old days — the days before Steve Jobs came back to Apple; the days when it seemed like a sure thing that Apple was going to tank. “Now we’re on the cover of
magazine, have three of the coolest computers of all time, we’re maintaining profits in a terrible economy, and arguably, have created the most exciting, controversial operating system ever implemented on a broad scale,” he said.