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15 January, 2004

The Computer is NOT my friend

Because a computer is central to my job, people seem to assume I actually like computers.  That's not the case; I have as much affection for a computer as I do for a screwdriver.  It's a tool, simple as that.  Do carpenters *like* saws?  My interest is in what I can achieve with a computer, rather than having the slightest interest in its inner workings. I have a little more interest in software, as that more directly influences what I can achieve; it is oddly pleasurable to learn something new about Photoshop, but again that's because it opens new opportunities for creativity.

This is one reason I use a PC, not a Mac. I'm not saying 'Macs are bad', I just prefer PCs. Please don't try to drag me into a Mac vs. PC debate; I'm simply not interested in relative performance issues.
I dislike the aesthetic of using a Mac; apparently a selling point, but a major turn-off for me. A Mac is designed to have character, to be intuitive almost to the point of interactivity with its user, to become part of the household and even a companion. My computer is not my friend, it is a soulless machine. It is not a partner in the creative process but merely an inanimate tool.

I found the following a while ago, but unfortunately lost the source:

"... Apple offers not only a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows, but also a computer that one can love and truly enjoy using... the real difference is that the Mac's aesthetic lifts my spirits and enhances my creativity [whilst] the Wintel boxes I've used have been at best aesthetically neutral and at worst aesthetically numbing."

No, no, NO! A clean, inert environment suits me far more; neutrality is exactly what I need. I don't want to relate to the thing.

Font designer Stanley Morison said that: "Typography is the efficient means to an essentially utilitarian, and only accidently aesthetic, end, for the enjoyment of patterns is rarely the reader's chief aim."
I feel much the same way about my computer: so long as the hardware and operating system assist my productivity invisibly, I'm happy. If the working environment is pleasant, that's a bonus, just as an attractive typeface helps when reading a block of text. I like crisp, efficient Arial, fussy Times New Roman doesn't do much for me (sorry, Mr. Morison!), and I'd rarely consider using 'cute' Comic Sans. To return to the point, Macs convey a fluffy and pastel feel, whereas I'm more of a shiny black latex type. ;)

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