3.1300 The Mac -- Redux (166)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 18 Apr 90 17:28:28 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1300. Wednesday, 18 Apr 1990.

(1) Date: Tue, 10 Apr 90 14:00:12 EDT (82 lines)
From: "Michael E. Walsh" <WALSH@IRLEARN>
Subject: Re: 3.1266 Mac affairs, cont.

(2) Date: Wed, 11 Apr 90 09:18 CST (34 lines)
From: Alvin Snider <ASNIDEPD@UIAMVS>
Subject: MacBashing

(3) Date: Wed, 11 Apr 90 11:04:31 EDT (50 lines)
From: "Patrick W. Conner" <U47C2@WVNVM>
Subject: 3.1292 Mac affairs, cont.

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 90 14:00:12 EDT
From: "Michael E. Walsh" <WALSH@IRLEARN>
Subject: Re: 3.1266 Mac affairs, cont.

Some comments on Roy Flannagans contribution of April 5th last:
>Subject: expensive, not expansive, Macs

>Hats off to Richard Goerwitz for making it very clear what Apple has
>been doing that is morally wrong. While still pretending to be the
>computer for the rest of us rebels, Apple is by its lawsuits and its
>closed architecture and its protected interface showing a protectionism
>worthy of a Romanian dictator.

I wonder. I have followed from afar the antics of Apple, Lotus and
friends, but are they any worse than the unpleasant business practices of
IBM and other larger companies which have less need to go to court
than these smaller fry. I suspect it may be more a reflection on the
American way of business. If one can consider lawyers and accountants
as an overhead (in the accounting sense) on society, then the US
carries a great burden indeed.

>Not that IBM has not been guilty of much of the same proprietary
>behavior. I forced myself to wait for an IBM clone to appear on the
>market when I was told that the cable to connect the original IBM to
>its monitor would cost about $250 and was sold only by IBM. Both major
>companies are now at least to some extent hide-bound and inflexible.

Unfortunately all companies which have an existing customer base
on essentially obsolete technology have to be conservative in their
development programme if they are to retain their existing customers.
IBM, due to its minimalist approach (bring out the minimum improvement
which will gain the target market share) started from a low technology
base and a history of piecemeal advances in technology has followed.

>There are basically two reasons why I have never bought
>a Macintosh: (1) how it works is hidden from me, and,

This is not essentially true, but one does have to go further to find it out.
>(2) if I buy something to make the Mac better I have to buy it from Apple.
This is not quite the case, as the advertising in the MAC magazines

>There is
>no clone market helping to keep Apple honest or competitive--except,
>perhaps, for Stephen Jobs's NeXT. Compaq, Dell, Everex all keep IBM
>hopping and hoping to do something genuinely innovative.

There is indeed no clone market, except perhaps for the Atari hack,
and if there were the prices would be cheaper. But dont assume that IBM
welcomes the position it finds itself in.

>Because of the open
>architechture and the vacant slots in IBM's new machines, and because of
>MS-DOS as a standard operating system, IBM's attitude toward innovation
>comes out looking cleaner than Apple's. (This all has very little to do
>with preference for one type of machine over the other; in fact, the
>Macs, the PS2's and the clones are looking more and more similar every
>day, despite all the look and feel cases.)

In fact this is the inverse of the situation. IBM brought out its new
PS/2 range with the Microchannel Architecture for a number of good
reasons, one of them being that it is proprietary, and licenced, for a
fee, to other companies. This is one reason why MCA interface boards
are more expensive than the traditional AT/XT bus boards and why,
due to the limited market, there are no MCA interface boards available
for some applications. Apple are at least no worse than this.

Please also be careful with language. 'Standard' (MS-DOS is a standard
operating system...') either means nothing or it means something very
specific. IBM has managed to expropriate the term 'Industry standard',
abbreviated to 'standard', to mean 'compatible with' or 'manufactured
by' IBM. Not even IBM PCs are IBM compatible - for any one you show me
I'll show you one which is different is some essential characteristic.

I also query IBMs commitment to 'openness'. They are, like all companies
which are in business to further their shareholders interests, open
when it suits them. A good example was the case a few years back when
they were forced by the Court of the European Communities to publish
the specifications for a core component of SNA, their networking

Michael Walsh,
University College,
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------49----
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 90 09:18 CST
From: Alvin Snider <ASNIDEPD@UIAMVS>
Subject: MacBashing

They're great machines, without a doubt. But why should we
avert our eyes from the marketing strategies lurking beneath
the Mac image? Below I reproduce a few paragraphs from an
article, written by Diana Wallace, that appeared in today's
campus newspaper.
>Tuesday's issue of _Mac Week_ magazine reported that the
>University of Iowa is ranked among the top ten Macintosh-
>using organizations nationwide.  But some officials here
>beg to differ.
>Officials at the UI's Weeg Computing Center say the number
>of UI-owned Macintosh computers is actually well below the
>6,000 reported in _MacWeek'_s highly touted 200 study.
>The study, which listed 200 organizations nationwide with
>the largest number of Macintoshes, reported that the UI has
>purchased and employs 6,000 Macintosh computers, making it
>the seventh largest Mac-user in the country.
>Marilyn Drury, manager of Weeg's Personal Computing Support
>Center, said the actual number of departmentally purchased
>Macs is probably closer to 1,300.  This figure would put
>the UI at 77th in _MacWeek'_s ranking.
>Drury attributed the inaccuracy to the fact that the _MacWeek_
>200 study based its figures on estimates from student and
>faculty member subscription applications . . . .
>Drury said she believed no specific individual at the UI
>was contacted to report the actual number of Macintoshes
>on campus.
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------67----
Date:   Wed, 11 Apr 90 11:04:31 EDT
From:   "Patrick W. Conner" <U47C2@WVNVM>
Subject:   3.1292 Mac affairs, cont.
I understand what you ARE saying, and except for one point (whether Apple
should release it operating environment to third parties) I'm in general
agreement.  So...to fresh woods and pastures new.
I sat in a university meeting Monday on networking our campus, and I
explained how if this were done, I could teach my composition classes
(we ALL teach second-semester composition here at WVU) on line, allowing
the students to send me their papers, which they could prepare on the
machine of their choice, which I could put through a HyperCard
correcting program which I've completely written (in my head,
unfortunately), etc.  A person from our writing laboratory, was aghast.
Personal contact with your students, she said, is absolutely necessary
for their developing good writing habits.  Of course, we'd have a few
sessions together, I said, but you're not aware of the kind of
interaction which happens online, are you?  You're not aware of the
intense emotions which are forced to surface in one's writing when that
is the means of communication.  That characteristic, I argued, may
indeed make online communication more instructive for beginning writers
than any number of personal conferences in my office filled with my
strange books, where I obviously call all the shots.  She wasn't
convinced.  But I am, and this last Mac/IBM argument demonstrates it.
Mark Olsen wants to call it religious wars because that term will
marginalize any value to flaming in our present secular society.  But I
think that the verbal intensity we marshall online when trying to argue
a point is one of the most positive things about telecommunications.
While there certainly have to be limits, which we have to depend on our
backgrounds and cultures to provide, I think we ought to stop
denigratingthe flame as somehow unworthy of consideration.  One measure
of message's importance to its writer is the intensity of its rhetoric.
The fact that Mac/IBM arguments still generate this heat (and the Halio
article was another example of the same thing) suggests that there
remains an issue concerning computer design, etc., which matters greatly
to many of us.  The problem is not that Apple is or is not being fair,
making money, whatever; it's not that IBM is more trust- worthy or
stable or less willing to serve humanistic interests, whatever.  So what
is it.  Why have we privileged this argument, in fact, for the two or
three years I've been on HUMANIST, while repeatedly admitting/claiming
that its an insignificant argument?  What is really behind the way we
marshall rhetoric behind our favorite operating system?  So, I think that
a really important issue with which to welcome ourselves to Providence
might be the deconstruction (sorry, folks; it is a loathsome term) of
this script which we've been enacting since HUMANIST sprang full-blown
from the brow of Willard.
--Pat Conner