There’s a commercial out there with a bunch of sexy men and women with Nordic features and quasi-Euro accents proclaiming that “one thing you wear that says more about who you are than anything else…..your watch.” I don’t know if it’s Seiko or Movado or what. Hilarious ad. Lousy impression.I laughed out loud when I heard this the first time, and I still get excited and elbow my wife like an idiot when I see it come on. It’s so earnest in delivering its pandering, narcissistic message. It’s proof that we’ve become a society defined by what we purchase, not what we DO or create.We label ourselves now not as doers, but as product vehicles. We identify with the brands and products we use, because using the brands and consuming their products have become such a big part of our lives. How often we hear the phrases “He’s a Chevy guy,” or “I’m really a Pepsi girl,” or like my friend Steph likes to say, “yeah, but that’s why you’re a Mac guy.”It’s starting to freak me out. I’ve created as much of the problem in my own world as anyone else has. I’m a obsessive scholar of brands and what makes them work or not work, and I tend to surround myself with brands I find compelling. As I’ve become fascinated with the interesting brand experiences, I’ve soaked them up, and evangelized them to others, and earned somewhat of a reputation as a brand snob. I guess. Whatever. We all surround ourselves with products that compel something inexplicable inside us.So I complain to Steph that “I am NOT a zealot! You take it back!” because it’s the opposite of what I want to be. If I’ve become a zealot, then I’ve definitively lost any objective opinion or discerning reason, and therefore blind in the search for quality. Walt Mossberg is right, all consumer computers are crap. I carry a Mac at the moment because it was the best solution for what I needed at the time. But I’m not a zealot. I’m tired of the debate, because it’s futile, and it’s just another sign that we’re more caught up in the brand and mark of our tools than what we can do with our tools.Imagine if we actually had debates about the use of computers, like whether writing was a better use of computers than graphic design. Jeff Atwood is right, they all suck, and it’s our own foolishness that sees the technology as the end, not the means to an end.I may be “the Mac guy” for now to the people who carry PCs all around me, but that’s only because I stick out like a sore thumb. (At least its a well-formed, elegant and graceful thumb.) But I’m more concerned with remaining product/platform/brand agnostic in an effort to always select the right tool for the job. It may be an Apple product, or Microsoft product, or hopefully, neither. Hopefully a third option will present itself like an open-source OS or supportable Linux. But it’s as futile as trying to start a third political party in the U.S. The system has a vested interest in keeping us at polar opposites, because no matter which side you’re on, polarization keeps you a de facto supporter of the two-camp system.Right now, Macs are enjoying the hip, cool, creative image and flaunting the famous musicians, film producers, and other artists who happen to use Macs, while Microsoft continues to enjoy its productive, serious, hard-earned reign over the business world. They hope to God that we don’t figure out that their next product upgrades won’t make a bit of difference in our creative output. Mark Twain scratched out his words with charcoal pencils. Stephan Grappelli notoriously played cheap violins. Fatboy Slim sequences all his samples with an Atari 1040ST. The Egyptians built the pyramids without MS Project or even cranes. Face it, friends. It’s time for us to get real about the technology race.What I’ll continue to look for is good options outside any particular “camp,” because the camps give you a myopic view of the world. We need tools to be created for their function alone, not for their empire-building interoperability with other same-brand products.Because regardless of the system I’m on at the moment, when I finish this post and turn off the computer, all that will exist 18 months from now, is the thoughts I’ve put out there tonight and whatever else creative and useful I’ve been able to coax from this lapwarming pile of crap today.
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