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less is less

2004-12-16 16:58:56.801343+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

Listened to Barry Schwartz's lecture at Pop!Tech 2004 titled "Less Is More" on the ferry this morning, and I was struck by... well... the lack of rigor in his argument, for one thing, and his generalizations that what's good for one is good for all, but...

One of the assertions that Schwartz makes is that relationships with other people are more valuable than choices. Not too hard to argue. Then this morning I was looking for information on how to configure my window manager a bit better, and I realized something: Un*x users depend on community to narrow their choices from a staggeringly huge array of options. Windows and Macintosh users depend on a company.

I haven't developed a thesis as to what this means yet, but I think there's the germ of an idea there, that using Un*x like operating systems requires a community and shared knowledge, otherwise the array of options is just way too large to contemplate. This may also have implications in understanding the economics of each of these markets, as Mac users also clearly have a sense of belonging.

[ related topics: Apple Computer Psychology, Psychiatry and Personality Microsoft Macintosh Community Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-17 15:04:36.933296+00 by: petronius

Part of the difference between "communities" of Mac or linux or Windows users (if we can call MS users a community) has more to do, I think, with the personal attitude of the users. I remember when Linux first came out and the vociferousness of the penguinistas. MS wasn't just the lesser creation, and MS itself wasn't just an intrusive and annoying corporation, it was worse than Pol Pot or the Mongol Hordes. Why? Because Linux gave its users power over the computer environment. Windows gives you power over the end result of your manipulations but doens't let you under the hood.

What's the difference? The business community that supports Windows wants a toaster, a device that does X, Y, and Z; then you just turn it off and go home. Mac and Linux folk want to manipulate the total environment. In the early days I had the impression that Linux enthusiasts were far more interested in working ON computers than actually doing anything WITH computers. Perhaps this is the big difference.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-17 16:38:04.891846+00 by: meuon

I have that issue with Linux and the local linux users group.. Although I want to tinker some, I want to make it DO things. Still, I find Linux a far better way to do that.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-18 01:20:42.914328+00 by: Shawn

As with most aspects of my life, I don't feel like I belong in either camp. My primary beef with MS products is the continuing erosion of control they allow me to fiddle stuff. That doesn't mean I'm a tinkerer for tinkering-sake, however. I enjoy the ability that Linux gives me to modify to my heart's content, but being required to constantly experiment, research and study prior to each new task/project gets annoying fast. I have multiple linux boxes and I feel I've got a pretty good understanding of how things work, but so far I have not been able to find a distribution/knowledgebase/community/resource that can provide me with the information/framework/support/knowledge I feel I need to actually get work done.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-20 20:34:40.260436+00 by: flushy

Shawn, you need to try Gentoo http://www.gentoo.org

the forums are reknowned for their usefullness, and the mailing list has some very bright minds on it.

the more computers you have, the better gentoo becomes (distcc was a godsend).

#Comment Re: made: 2004-12-24 07:39:20.169864+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Thanks flushy. I haven't paid much attention to Gentoo because I thought it was mostly targetting embedded systems. I'm not much of a forum person, but right away I found two MythTV HOWTOs for it. (Setting up a MythTV box has been on my project short list for the last several months.)

Gentoo itself looks just as involved and complex, if not more so, than any other "power user's" distro, but the community documentation does look promising.