Dumb prisoners we are not


Source: A Strange Sort of Prison, a Strange Sort of Freedom.

Some clichés never get old. The recent comments by Richard Stallman in occasion of Steve Jobs’s passing, once again bring back the old, trite argument that Apple users are some kind of dumb crowd who can’t really decide for themselves. No, people must buy Apple products because they’re slick, or because people can show them off as some kind of status symbol, or because they’ve fallen for Jobs’s and Apple’s enchanting marketing like gullible fools, or because they’re blind followers of the Apple ‘cult’. It seems that a conscious, informed decision behind their choice is completely out of the question.

I really liked McCracken’s response, it’s very similar to what I’ve always been saying on the matter:

I do have a problem with the notion that Apple users are dopes who are being deprived–willingly or unwillingly–of their freedoms. […]

The thing is, none of this limits my choice as a user of technology products. I don’t have to use Apple products. They are a choice. As is Linux. As is Windows. As is anything else you care to use. […]

People who use Apple products considered their options, and chose Apple. If they regret their decision, they can dump it at any time. […]

Me, I choose to use Apple products. […] I’m familiar with the pros and cons of my various options. I understand my needs. I think I’m as good a position as anyone to know what products will serve me well, or at least a better one than Stallman and Raymond. […]

But all Jobs ever did was make products that people were free to choose or ignore. Stallman and Raymond, however, seem to be confident that they understand what’s good for Apple customers better than Apple customers do.

I arrived at McCracken’s article via Marco Arment, whose commentary is also spot-on:

These blanket statements dismiss and discredit Apple’s customers, suggesting that we’re buying Apple products for irrational, invalid, or ignorant reasons.

But what these critics are increasingly showing is that they haven’t made any effort to understand Apple’s customers or the deficiencies in the alternative products that have given so many people rational, valid, intelligent reasons to buy Apple’s.

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