Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Mac

The Cult of the Mac

As a Protestant Mac user working part-time at a Catholic theological college where everyone uses Windows PCs I found last Thursday’s technology section on Radio New Zealand National : Nine to Noon (Thu, 25 October) fairly amusing.

You can find the full transcript over at it.gen.nz » The Cult of the Mac, and at the end of it Colin Jackson quotes a chunk of Umberto Eco’s 1994 article The Holy War: Mac vs. DOS in which Eco comments:

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the kingdom of Heaven — the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

(Windows is, Eco argues, like the Anglican church, at times appearing Catholic but also in places deep down quite Protestant).

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