Hiltmon

On walkabout in life and technology

The People Who Love Something Are Its Best Critics

I have been accused of being an Apple fan-something as if this was a bad thing, a blinkered delusional existence, a sign of mental degradation. I could come back that it is a Stockholm Syndrome like relationship that binds Windows users to Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Or declare that Linux-on-the-desktop users are hallucinating when they claim productivity and usability in a sea of incomprehensibly complex, buggy and mediocre open source software.

It’s all bullshit, just name calling really, and that is so childish.

The people who choose to love something are its best supporters, promoters, and yes, critics. They don’t need others to call them names and drown their honesty in a wash of white noise.

The people I know who are the true Linux-on-the-desktop fans are also its biggest critics. They are smart, and express themselves clearly in an adult manner. They love the ability to tinker with Open Source, which is why they love Linux. Yet they criticize bad code and design in the harshest of terms. They love productivity and ease of use, and are extremely comfortable on their platform of choice, and again criticize vehemently when they don’t find it. They are happy to explain why their platform of choice works so well for them. They do this because they love Linux and Open Source, and hope their voices get heard to make their platform better. And I think it’s working.

On the other hand, I don’t know many who treat Windows in the same way. They seem resigned to the complex interfaces, slow downs, annoyances, chicken-dances, anti-virus alerts, reboots and The Microsoft way. So they don’t criticize it, they just keep using it. Maybe it is because they never got the opportunity to choose, their employers just gave them Windows and that’s all they know. And Windows users know their voices would not be heard anyways.

There are exceptions of course. I know several smart people who are on Microsoft because there is this one application that they love and use all the time and choose not to change from it. Good for them too, yet we treat them as being a tad “special”. Not true, they have made a considered choice too, and are fans and critics too.

For me, I’d like to think of myself as an Apple fan who tries to criticize them in private more than in public, mostly because of the noise that it generates that drowns out the actual message. For example, I am pissed at Apple for dumping pro and creative users for the masses, I am annoyed that a lot of the new software is buggy yet still ships and I am concerned that the pressure to innovate is hindering Apple’s ability to iterate (which is where Apple really excels).

I still feel that Apple produces the best hardware, the best operating systems, the best user experience, and most importantly, has the best indie software ecosystem. For me, for my needs. Which is why I still use and choose Apple products. It’s why I often talk about this ecosystem on this blog.

We, as an industry, need to get away from viewing fans of any particular platform as idiotic blinkered sheep and recognize that their love for the platforms they intentionally chose is tempered with a knowledge of that platform’s strengths and weaknesses. They have taken the time to examine each platform and found the features that make their chosen one work well for them. And become fans and critics of it in equal measure.

We need to be able praise that which we feel is great about our favorite platform, and criticize it just as harshly, without name calling.

I claim that I am a clear eyed, clear headed, big fan of Apple and its products. I am also one of its biggest critics. I hope to be heard so that the platform I love gets better for me, and maybe for others too.

And I expect you to do the same for the platform you chose. That way, we can make them all better.

Remember, the people who love something the most are always its best critics.

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