Imx Fix in my experience
« prev next »

January 17, 2002 11:47 AM

David Coursey is trying an experiment in working in Mac OS for the next month. I think adoption of Mac OS full time is very unlikely for a few reasons. The most important reason being that he has a high level of comfort in a different look-and-feel, a different widget set, and a different computing attitude (Windows = Windows centric; Mac OS = user centric).

Raskin talks about automaticity in his excellent book 'The Humane Interface' and notes its importance in adoption of a given system. When you drive a car, you don't think in terms of 'raise right foot off of accelerator by contracting the muscles in the abdomen and thigh.' You don't think about it at all, it's automatic, you just do it. Coursey has a career of automaticity to fight when he wants to do something as simple as close a window. For a while, he'll have to conciously think about where to click the mouse to close that window.

Coursey says "In theory, a Windows user ought to be able to get along quite well with a Mac." Which is, imho, just plain wrong in terms of battling the automaticity issue and another, more important, issue.

Transpose the words 'Windows' and 'Mac' in that sentence and that would be true when it comes to getting the OS's to play nice together. The Windows OS has become the most proprietary OS on earth. It refuses to open a Mac formatted disk without installing 3rd party software. But, the Mac OS has been able to open PC disks for years, without any after market software installs. This is just one of many examples. The Mac OS (and more to the point OSX) is probably the most flexible OS when trying to work with other OS's. I have been able to find ways to pry open just about any file ever sent to me (other than encrypted files for which I don't have the password. I'm not a kr@k3r.) But, I digress.

Coursey is in for more problems when his reliance on specific software that is not available on Mac OS becomes a clear and present danger to his work flow (which he talks about). On a given OS (Mac, Windows, Linux, OS2/Warp) you find and exploit software that is available to you when it becomes necessary. Changing your OS is like going to another country. You have to learn the local customs, the dialect, where the local market is and how to say "when is lunch?" I wonder if a month will be long enough for Coursey to become fluent in Mac OS.

I think the most interesting thing we can learn from this experiment is how Coursey manages to find his way in a different OS and how that experience changes his views of his native OS. I guess we'll have to check back in a month.