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February 14, 2007

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There's Even a Cameo from the Commodore 64

“You’re in the iWorld, Bill… and I am a god here.”

This video comes with a big heap of JobBiasTM but it really made me laugh. The dark ballad of the Finder might be the best part.

Digg it if you’re the sort of person who does that.

Posted February 14, 2007 at 10:04 | Comments (6) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted, Gleeful Miscellany


Oh brave new world,
That has such vidoes in't!

I wish I was a God of the iWorld. Then the finder could sing me to sleep every night. Then, every morning when I woke up, my icon-self would magically leap from the Dock, made more beautiful than I am in reality by Quartz-animation.

And anytime I wanted: I would be in the Spotlight! (Find: ME!)

Taking the longer view, you could take it as a good sign that people are beginning to push back against Apple a little bit. It shows that like Windows, Apple is being taken seriously as a dominant force in many of our lives, not just those who have chosen to be its acolytes.

To make a political analogy, Apple is a real opposition party now -- and like the Democrats, they have their problems, especially when they're in power.

That said, I think both Jobs and Gates are handled gently here, and in good spirit. It's revealing, too, what's being pushed back against is the equation Windows=nerd=lame=sucks. (Cf. this MacWorld UK article on how the "Get a Mac" ads have backfired.) A lot of Mac users think of themselves as nerds, too. And we don't like to be picked on.

The more Apple becomes not just a mainstream product, but a "cool" one, and not a nerd-cool, tech-cool, or art-cool one, but a jock-cool, chick-cool, slick-cool one, the more you can expect this to be a problem, especially for the marginalized constituency that used to be prime evangelical targets for the Mac faith.

As to whether this sort of video indicates a real shift in power: that's hard to say. Obviously Apple's dominance of the iPod-like market is clear, but when it comes to computers things are not so certain.

Apple has long been given props for taste, ever since the first Mac and its accompanying ad. And since cultural producers are more likely than most other groups in the rest of the population to be Mac-users, the platform has generally enjoyed high public currency. Which is to say, this video is encouraging for those who want Apple to stick around, but Apple may still be more of a libertarian or Green Party (or, better, late 19th century socialist) than the Dems.

The other thing to note about that comic is how carefully it avoids real politics, and real power: Its been a couple days since I looked at it (so my claims could be off), but there are no mentions of the actual power that a company like Microsoft has b/c of its monopoly on the PC OS, or the problems (discussed on this blog)of the Apple model of Digital Rights Management, linking play-back device to purchased songs (Jobs now says that this isn't a problem b/c most songs are not DRM, but if this model actually took off and replaced CDs, there would be real issues). By portraying Gates as a harmless geek, we also miss out on the fact that he may be the single most influential person in the world when it comes to setting an agenda for global public health, and that he made Microsoft a behemoth though saavy business, and not just geeky code. Jobs, on the other hand, has always been master of his own iWorld (see the famed "reality-distortion field") and this video just amplifies his image of power in a way that may be misleading.

As for losing its core constituency: it's hard to say how the US ads might work. Of course, the PC character is much more fun and more interesting than the Mac character, but I'm not suddenly more attracted to the the PC. It just makes me appreciate the spirit of Apple in putting out clever ads. (Just like _Paradise Lost_ did not put me in Satan's camp by its wonderful portrayal of that character, but rather made me appreciate human creativity-- particularly Milton's--and the humanist poetry of existence. Granted Milton would have said the hero ought to be God, but, well, not everything can be targeted perfectly)

What struck me about the reception of the Apple Mac vs. PC ads in the UK is how delicate that balance of sympathy and interestingness can be.

The ads in the UK used different actors, for one thing -- and the Mac character came off as "smug." The Mac character in the US ads doesn't come off that way at all, at least to me -- what's driven home is that these two characters are friends, but one of the friends is a little more ridiculous than the other.

As for the "real politics" discussion, while DRM is a nuisance, global health is a LOT more important than DRM. I think this entry from The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs says it all.

Sorry. This post says it all. My bad.

My placement of questions concerning the direction of global public health and the fate of various kinds of Digital Rights Management systems in the same paragraph was not meant to imply they were of a similar kind or import. I'd say, without blinking, that Bill Gates and Microsoft are more important than Steve Jobs and Apple, just because they have so much more money, and such a larger installed base of users who have made themselves captives to their technologies by building their businesses around Microsoft products.

Plus, as we've seen, Bill Gates' philanthropic foundation can command the attention of other billionaires and will, hopefully, provide an incentive to develop good solutions to health problems that are not normally addressed by GlaxoSmithKline. One can only hope this can be done in a way that supports fair local governance and doesn't force dependence on the products of the US and Europe.

Having said that, the kind of argument that "Fake Steve Jobs" offers seems a bit disingenuous, coming from a person who apparently thinks its worth his or her time to write only about Apple. If that is an okay use of time, then thoughtful (or not) critique of a near-monopolist's strategies (in the online music/portable music player business) seem well within the bounds of proper discourse priorities. And of course, one can be upset about DRM (which, in truth I don't care much about) and also be upset about other issues (things that I would consider more important: decreased carbon/methane emissions, eliminating poverty, preventing apparently paranoid presidents of world powers from invading more Middle-Eastern countries...) Useful outrage may come in limited supplies, but this isn't all just one big zero-sum game built on massive mutual-exclusivity.

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