The Walled Garden

Does anybody remember what using a computer is like? I spent a week after reinstalling my operating system picking out the right tweaks and gizmos and gadgets to make things more manageable. Weblogs exist that do nothing but teach you how you can make your experience on a computer less shitty. On a closed system, you can’t do that. You work with what you’ve got. Rory Marinich, “I Love Walled Gardens”

Marinich goes on to extol the virtues of having a sandbox to start in instead of having an expert system that must be learned before you can make anything. He’s absolutely right – not least because lower barriers to entry mean more people will experiment but because the more people who experiment, the broader the range of potential creations are out there, because that broadens the range of itches that people will discover and be inspired to scratch. (Besides, expert users who want to root around on the insides: isn’t that what the dev kit is for?)

He speaks harshly about the role of compulsive behavior in the environment in which people often define success in computing, but it’s impossible not to nod along with him, especially after another Apple release cycle. He is spot on about the people who speculated wildly, overexamined every leak, made elaborate laundry lists of every little thing a new Apple product should do, and then freaked out when Steve didn’t deliver exactly what they imagined. I happen to enjoy watching that particular parade unfold, but it seems like an agonizing place for the people marching in it.

And they must be getting tired after making the same complaints over and over again for so long.

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