February 2, 2006

Do Macintosh Computers Encourage Confusion?

I use to be a Mac fan, one of those typical "Mac is so cool and PCs bite" kind of people. Macs seemed intuitive, creative, fun and contributed to the funk-factor. Then I learned the PC. It took a while but I became pretty quick at the operating system. At first I felt disconnected from all the control I had on a Mac and too dependent on a tech. But then that became the norm.

Now at my new job I'm back on a Mac and I'm going loony. My immediate feeling is that they are too clever for their own good and that it is a visual and information overload. All the icons on the desktop cleverly convey some kind of deeper meaning. Mail is not just mail it is a little stamp. Excel has a funky X that is meant to look like a futuristic French-design-inspired % symbol. The address book has a little book icon with an “@” sign. How clever.

I don’t want clever. I can’t work with clever. I’m already clever. The program icons jump up and down on your screen when they need attention. I already do that – no need to excite me more. I can’t ever seem to get a clean desktop. It is littered with information. A little calendar with a little alarm clock has just jumped up on my screen and now the little calendar icon on the bottom of the screen is jumping like a Mexican jumping bean. I’m over stimulated and confused. STOP!

But if you think about it, and I’m sure I’ll stir up my creative Mac friends, the folks who use Mac do seem scattered and over stimulated. Yes, they are some of the most interesting and artistic folks I know but do they need more stimulation? The best thing the arts can do is move off the Mac system and over to a PC to manage their business operations. Fine, be creative on a Mac. I admire your ability to multi-task and look at a million little icons. But I’m falling into a Million Little Pieces and that’s no lie.