Lost post: Apple “community”

This is a ‘lost post’ that I found unpublished when fixing up my WordPress install. I wrote it about six years ago, and I’m not sure that much has changed, except that I don’t find myself needing help with the basics so often…

I can’t decide whether the bits of “Apple community” I keep encountering reinforce the idea that Apple is as much cult as company, or whether its just confirmation bias, but it’s getting on my nerves.

I’ve become increasingly enmeshed in the Apple universe, particularly in the past year. I’ve had a few iPods over the years, so my legacy music collection lives in iTunes. I bought an iPad a little over a year ago, and found that a thin, light, always-connected internet device was something I could really use. I’ve collected a selection of smartphones for work and am using an iPhone now as my primary.

I’ve always been PC-based at work, but even that’s about to change. Thanks to a 32bit-only Windows install image and both the gradual migration of my tools to 64bit only and the need for more memory, I’m switching the Mac. Ironically, I’m switching to Mac just as “serious” video people seem to be switching back the other way — Final Cut Pro X doesn’t seem to be working for production houses who were using Studio/Server, and Apple have been neglecting/killing off their pro hardware for a while now — but for my uses, that’s not such a big deal and I may continue to use Premiere on Mac anyway. I’m also picking up a personal Mac while I’m on.

Now in “professional” discussion spaces, the conversation does tend to be more rational but whenever I search for a “how-to” for any of my consumer devices, I invariably see a conversation which looks a bit like this:

OP: “Hi Guys, I want to <do a thing> but not by <a method the OP can’t to use>. Any ideas how?

1P: “That’s easy, you just <method the OP doesn’t want to use>

OP: “No, I want to do it without using <method>

2P: “The best way is to <differently worded explanation of the OP’s do-not-use method>

1p: “Why wouldn’t you want to use <unwanted method>? Why make things difficult?”

OP:<reasonable explanation of why they can’t use the suggested method>

2p: “That’s stupid, just <unwanted method>. If you want to do it stupidly, use WinBlows”

3p:<Alternative method which ignores the problem with the first method and therefore doesn’t help>

4p: You can’t do it, because Mac users are sheep/Use Linux/trolling

Everyone: *bun fight*

Additionally, if the thread lasts for more than a single page, then at some point there’ll be an argument over iOS sales vs Android sales, market cap, lawsuits, icon design, profitability and favourite colour. If it gets to a third page there’ll be additional arguments about the Metro UI, Mountain Lion and the tabletisation of everything. And skeuomorphism.

Jokes aside, my anecdotal observations suggest that not only is there not much help around if you deviate from the standard method, but that a non-trivial elements of the community sees it as a bad thing to even try. I’m not so worried about finding workarounds in things like Final Cut, Motion or Keynote — there are plenty of “professional” forums covering that sort of thing where people are pragmatic about getting work done. My main concern is that, as I’m acclimating to OS X, I’m going to want to rapidly dial-up my knowledge of how the OS works, its tricks and secrets etc. And it seems that at a general level, that might be harder.