Sunday, 30 November 2008

Geeks and Apple Fans

I was reading Douglas Copeland on the 25th anniversary of the Mac in Intelligent Life today (I do still sometimes read things on paper, even though i can't link to them), and as well as being as obsessive and superior as all Apple fan writing, it also suggested that Apple was a geek brand. I've always been fairly neutral about Apple products... actually no, I've always tried to be, but then get wound up by the fanboys who look down their noses at better products made by other companies. What I mean is that I don't personally use their machines as I don't like the software, but can see how you could get seduced by the hardware into overlooking the stuff i don't like.

It was the Geek label that confused me though, as to me Apple should be everything that a geek hates. It's the last big walled garden, that has never opened up hardware or software for computing or phone products. Personalisation, hacking and enhancing are core to geekery, whereas Macs are meant to be used exactly as they are - it is industrial era design; "we are the manufacturers, we know best". It also represents the opposite of open source, at a time when even major labels are moving away from DRM.

So I had a look back at what exactly we think of as a geek. Wikipedia has the following definition

"a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, gaming, etc.

So you can be a subject specific geek like a maths geek or even an Apple geek. And I suppose it is a tech geek that would find the most problems with Apple - after all, being a geek is all about not conforming to mainstream opinions. But that is getting into splitting hairs - geek is also a generic term. So i completed the Geek Test on innergeek, which pretty much confirmed that all the things that I considered geeky are accurate. It also confirmed that I was a major geek, and I have the badge to prove it.
major geek
(The fact that I am writing this post would probably put me up to the next level in itself. As would the fact I care). So I thought about who I would class as geeks.... and the obvious place to start is England's Head Geek, the man who can make a social network famous and break a Blackberry with a few tweets, Stephen Fry. OK, probably the world's biggest Apple fan. 2nd person in the UK to own a Mac. Can communicate with the Twitterverse using iPhone video in parts of Madagascar where there isn't even a phone signal.

So i asked around the office, and sure enough, most people whose geek opinions i respect actually bring their Macbooks in to work rather than have to suffer using PCs.

So am I missing something? What part of the walled garden of Apple DRM is convincing everyone else that it is the one true tech path? Anyone?


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