Thursday, August 26, 2004

Computers' Religious Wars -- A Reprint.
After reading Fr. Tharp's another reason to switch to Mac, I remembered an article a friend sent me when I was recently debating to switch to Mac (and how I still rue the fact that I did not; maybe next year). I found the following from Brent Sleeper's website.

"Umberto Eco’s gently humorous essay comparing Macs as Catholic and PCs as Protestant made the rounds of Usenet newsgroups and mailing lists in late 1994. I posted a copy to my personal web site at that time under the title, “Religious Wars.” It’s an excerpted English translation of Eco’s back-page column, “La bustina di Minerva,” in the September 30, 1994, issue of the Italian newsweekly L’espresso."

Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war
which is modifying the modern world. It’s an old idea of mine, but I find that
whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.
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 reach salvation. To make
the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the
baroque community of revellers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his
own inner torment.
You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It’s true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions….And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic.

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