Dan Graham grahamdk at telus.net
Mon Apr 17 23:11:27 PDT 2006

Juan Alberto Cirez wrote:
> Mitchell Brown wrote:
>>     Thanks to hype0 for sending this to me. It made my day :)
>> Around the time that Jobs, Wozniak, Gates, and Allen were dreaming up 
>> these unlikely schemes, I was a teenager living in Ames, Iowa. One of 
>> my friends' dads had an old MGB sports car rusting away in his garage. 
>> Sometimes he would actually manage to get it running and then he would 
>> take us for a spin around the block, with a memorable look of wild 
>> youthful exhiliration on his face; to his worried passengers, he was a 
>> madman, stalling and backfiring around Ames, Iowa and eating the dust 
>> of rusty Gremlins and Pintos, but in his own mind he was Dustin 
>> Hoffman tooling across the Bay Bridge with the wind in his hair.
>> In retrospect, this was telling me two things about people's 
>> relationship to technology. One was that romance and image go a long 
>> way towards shaping their opinions. If you doubt it (and if you have a 
>> lot of spare time on your hands) just ask anyone who owns a Macintosh 
>> and who, on those grounds, imagines him- or herself to be a member of 
>> an oppressed minority group.
>> The other, somewhat subtler point, was that interface is very 
>> important. Sure, the MGB was a lousy car in almost every way that 
>> counted: balky, unreliable, underpowered. /But it was fun to drive/. 
>> It was responsive. Every pebble on the road was felt in the bones, 
>> every nuance in the pavement transmitted instantly to the driver's 
>> hands. He could listen to the engine and tell what was wrong with it. 
>> The steering responded immediately to commands from his hands. To us 
>> passengers it was a pointless exercise in going nowhere--about as 
>> interesting as peering over someone's shoulder while he punches 
>> numbers into a spreadsheet. But to the driver it was an /experience/. 
>> For a short time he was extending his body and his senses into a 
>> larger realm, and doing things that he couldn't do unassisted.
>> The analogy between cars and operating systems is not half bad, and so 
>> let me run with it for a moment, as a way of giving an executive 
>> summary of our situation today.
>> Imagine a crossroads where four competing auto dealerships are 
>> situated. One of them (Microsoft) is much, much bigger than the 
>> others. It started out years ago selling three-speed bicycles 
>> (MS-DOS); these were not perfect, but they worked, and when they broke 
>> you could easily fix them.
>> There was a competing bicycle dealership next door (Apple) that one 
>> day began selling motorized vehicles--expensive but attractively 
>> styled cars with their innards hermetically sealed, so that how they 
>> worked was something of a mystery.
>> The big dealership responded by rushing a moped upgrade kit (the 
>> original Windows) onto the market. This was a Rube Goldberg 
>> contraption that, when bolted onto a three-speed bicycle, enabled it 
>> to keep up, just barely, with Apple-cars. The users had to wear 
>> goggles and were always picking bugs out of their teeth while Apple 
>> owners sped along in hermetically sealed comfort, sneering out the 
>> windows. But the Micro-mopeds were cheap, and easy to fix compared 
>> with the Apple-cars, and their market share waxed.
>> Eventually the big dealership came out with a full-fledged car: a 
>> colossal station wagon (Windows 95). It had all the aesthetic appeal 
>> of a Soviet worker housing block, it leaked oil and blew gaskets, and 
>> it was an enormous success. A little later, they also came out with a 
>> hulking off-road vehicle intended for industrial users (Windows NT) 
>> which was no more beautiful than the station wagon, and only a little 
>> more reliable.
>> Since then there has been a lot of noise and shouting, but little has 
>> changed. The smaller dealership continues to sell sleek Euro-styled 
>> sedans and to spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns. They have 
>> had GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! signs taped up in their windows for so long 
>> that they have gotten all yellow and curly. The big one keeps making 
>> bigger and bigger station wagons and ORVs.
>> On the other side of the road are two competitors that have come along 
>> more recently.
>> One of them (Be, Inc.) is selling fully operational Batmobiles (the 
>> BeOS). They are more beautiful and stylish even than the Euro-sedans, 
>> better designed, more technologically advanced, and at least as 
>> reliable as anything else on the market--and yet cheaper than the others.
>> With one exception, that is: Linux, which is right next door, and 
>> which is not a business at all. It's a bunch of RVs, yurts, tepees, 
>> and geodesic domes set up in a field and organized by consensus. The 
>> people who live there are making tanks. These are not old-fashioned, 
>> cast-iron Soviet tanks; these are more like the M1 tanks of the U.S. 
>> Army, made of space-age materials and jammed with sophisticated 
>> technology from one end to the other. But they are better than Army 
>> tanks. They've been modified in such a way that they never, ever break 
>> down, are light and maneuverable enough to use on ordinary streets, 
>> and use no more fuel than a subcompact car. These tanks are being 
>> cranked out, on the spot, at a terrific pace, and a vast number of 
>> them are lined up along the edge of the road with keys in the 
>> ignition. Anyone who wants can simply climb into one and drive it away 
>> for free.
>> Customers come to this crossroads in throngs, day and night. Ninety 
>> percent of them go straight to the biggest dealership and buy station 
>> wagons or off-road vehicles. They do not even look at the other 
>> dealerships.
>> Of the remaining ten percent, most go and buy a sleek Euro-sedan, 
>> pausing only to turn up their noses at the philistines going to buy 
>> the station wagons and ORVs. If they even notice the people on the 
>> opposite side of the road, selling the cheaper, technically superior 
>> vehicles, these customers deride them cranks and half-wits.
>> The Batmobile outlet sells a few vehicles to the occasional car nut 
>> who wants a second vehicle to go with his station wagon, but seems to 
>> accept, at least for now, that it's a fringe player.
>> The group giving away the free tanks only stays alive because it is 
>> staffed by volunteers, who are lined up at the edge of the street with 
>> bullhorns, trying to draw customers' attention to this incredible 
>> situation. A typical conversation goes something like this:
>> Hacker with bullhorn: "Save your money! Accept one of our free tanks! 
>> It is invulnerable, and can drive across rocks and swamps at ninety 
>> miles an hour while getting a hundred miles to the gallon!"
>> Prospective station wagon buyer: "I know what you say is 
>> true...but...er...I don't know how to maintain a tank!"
>> Bullhorn: "You don't know how to maintain a station wagon either!"
>> Buyer: "But this dealership has mechanics on staff. If something goes 
>> wrong with my station wagon, I can take a day off work, bring it here, 
>> and pay them to work on it while I sit in the waiting room for hours, 
>> listening to elevator music."
>> Bullhorn: "But if you accept one of our free tanks we will send 
>> volunteers to your house to fix it for free while you sleep!"
>> Buyer: "Stay away from my house, you freak!"
>> Bullhorn: "But..."
>> Buyer: "Can't you see that everyone is buying station wagons?"
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> _______________________________________________
> Here are my "dos centavos":
> I have been using Linux since 1993/1994. I have always used slackware 
> (and only briefly used debian/Stormix while building their Firewall/VPN 
> server). Although Linux has gotten easier to install and maintain, it 
> does still requires  a  basic understanding of  computers to make full 
> use of it. Until Linux is 100% idiot-proof and supports as many devices 
> as Windows does (right out of the box), it will be relegated to the 
> "Gourmet" user...
> To paraphrase Friedrich W. Nietzsche: Every advance in human society is 
> only made possible when and if the powerful elite deems it necessary, or 
> convenient...(EVERY elevation of the type "man," has hitherto been the 
> work of an aristocratic society and so it will always be...). Not until 
> the business world (not just a few; but a concerned, unified effort) see 
> the economic benefits(to themselves; not the consumer) of promoting 
> Linux as a viable alternative  (and Linux continues to mature into a 
> true user-friendly OS) will it reach the critical mass it needs to 
> "compete" against the StationWagon dealership...Not matter how cool it 
> is to drive a tank on the freeway (or how nice it's to blow s**t up with it)

Nietzsche is old school and over rated ;-) . ... Now back to configing this Mr. Fusion power plant for my Hyperdrive M1 with XGL and wobbly windows....  

Chaos, panic, & disorder - my work here is done.

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