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The Cult of Mac 374

Posted by timothy
from the distant-drumbeats dept.
cgjherr (Jack Herrington) writes "The Cult of Mac, a new book by Leander Kahney, is a love letter to the Macintosh community. The book seeks to simultaneously define and evangelize the Apple cultural phenomenon. With 25 million users (in the author's estimation) there is a lot of culture to go around. The tattoos. The modified machines. The pilgrimage to MacWorld. The sub-cult of iPod. It's all here." Read on for the rest of Herrington's review.
The Cult of Mac
author Leander Kahney
pages 268
publisher No Starch
rating Excellent
reviewer Jack Herrington
ISBN 1886411832
summary A love letter to the Mac community

The form and structure of the book is a cross between a Wired magazine (for which Kahney has long written on Apple) and a coffee table book. There are great pictures of people, machines and art to appeal to the eye. Some pages are all pictures, while others are primarily text -- most are a combination of the two. The layout is always attractive. If this were a book from Apple, the style would be cleaner and there would be less emphasis on the past; this book is from and for the fans, though, so the style is more edgy and chaotic.

The book is divided into five large sections. The first covers the Macintosh itself, its users, its evangelists, and a little of its history. Including, to my amusement, but not surprise, its connection with pot, which occupies three pages. Wozniak is covered lovingly, and Jobs is painted with the same awe, love and hate brush that the community uses. Leander even covers the TV and movie Macintosh spotting, where the good guys always use Macs and the bad guys always use PCs.

Section two takes us into the MacWorld phenomenon. The secrecy, the crazy crowds, the keynote -- the whole shebang. We also get a look into the Mac phenomenon in Japan.

The final three sections are the most interesting to the hardware lovers. Section four covers modifying the Macintosh, futuristic designs, and the variety of things that have been built from dead Macs. The fourth section is about collecting Macintoshes; there is an excellent image here of a reception desk built entirely of old Mac Classics. Some attention is also paid to the devotees of Apple tsotchkes -- the shirts, the pins, the shoes, and other logo-branded novelties.

The final section is all about what comes next. Here Leander covers the iPod and its subculture, as well as the ongoing cultural battle between Microsoft users and the Mac world. The author even goes so far as to associate the construction of the swivel head iMac to that of a newborn baby to justify our attachment to it. And that makes my Powerbook a what?

There is a lot of great material in this book just to flip through, or to sit down for an enjoyable read. For the technically minded, there is nothing here to help you write better code or get more out of the operating system. This is a book about a culture, its icons, its people, and its ideology.

I can't recommend this book for a PC person, Unless he's interested in learning about the phenomenon or becoming part of it, I doubt there is much he'd interesting in this book. A PC user uses his machine to perform a task and thinks little of the machine itself. A Mac, on the other hand, is a key component of an integrated lifestyle. If you don't live the lifestyle and you care to know more about it, then check out the book. Otherwise, you might as well skip it.

As a Mac enthusiast myself I really enjoy this book. I started programming on the Macintosh with the first 128K machine, took a hiatus on Windows for a couple of years, and switched back with OS X. I've been to a MacWorld and seen some of the phenomenon first-hand. But it's nice to see it catalogued here in such an attractive, nicely constructed, well-written book.

In the early days of Apple versus Microsoft we had a real culture war, command line versus GUI. Windows won. Which is bad because Mac is, IMHO, better. But the Windows victory does allow us in the Mac camp to revel in our own individuality. This book is a fun way for new and old Mac fans alike to share in the common insanity which is our somewhat unrealistic love for this computer and it's company.

I'm certainly glad this book came out before Christmas. Now I know what I am going to give a couple of my fellow Macaddicts.


Reviewer Jack Herrington authored Code Generation in Action, and edits the Code Generation Network. You can purchase The Cult of Mac from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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The Cult of Mac

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @04:52PM (#10667351)
    I got the joke, but I thought it was rather stupid. :p
  • Re:Uhhh No (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kenja (541830) on Friday October 29, 2004 @04:55PM (#10667381)
    I can tell you that a Mac in no way is a "key component of an integrated lifestyle". It's a computer that happens to run an alternate OS...

    Then you are not a Mac User, your just happen to use a Mac.

  • Re:Uhhh No (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:00PM (#10667440)
    In Soviet Russia, the Macs use you.
  • by freeze128 (544774) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:01PM (#10667458)
    It's OK if you have a deep personal relationship with your Macintosh....

    You PAID for it.
  • by Nerd Cooties (823179) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:02PM (#10667461) Homepage
    Apple is having a special get together in Jonestown, Guyana. They are even giving away Koolaid! Hope you can attend
  • by the_twisted_pair (741815) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:02PM (#10667465)
    X _ X
    \

    0F0064

  • by wankledot (712148) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:05PM (#10667485)
    I'm curious if there is a picture of my cube fishtank (http://home.comcast.net/~jleblanc77/cube/) in the book. The author and I exchanged some emails about it. Has anyone seen the book yet, and know if it's in there?
  • by Dante Shamest (813622) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:07PM (#10667508)
    Compared to Grand High Emperor Linus and his Linux empire! He's aided by Arch Supreme Bishop Stallman and his army of F/OSS programmers!!
  • by YetAnotherName (168064) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:07PM (#10667509) Homepage
    That page tells me two things:

    1. Some really ugly guys like Macs.

    2. Some really lovely women like Macs.

    Hummanah, hummanah!
  • by Tracer_Bullet82 (766262) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:12PM (#10667551)
    poeple will talk about "The cult of the mac" vs "the drones of MS" vs "zealots of Linux".

    Sort of like Moonism vs Mormons vs Scientology.

    But steve got the best dibs on a prophet name and story..err "myth".

    Think about it, JOB.

    Founded the religion, got "crucified" by "betrayors"; only to later "resurrect" in the religion dying throes.And "protelyzing" it to new hights :)

    Oh yeah, BSD is heathen*run away*
  • by micromoog (206608) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:24PM (#10667649)
    2. Some really lovely women like Macs.

    Uh-oh, is Apple picking up on BSD's schtick [wigen.net]?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:46PM (#10667872)

    With 25 million users (in the author's estimation) there is a lot of culture to go around.

    But the Windows victory does allow us in the Mac camp to revel in our own individuality.

    So, being a member of a 25 million head herd makes you an individual?

    Uh...

  • by gordgekko (574109) on Friday October 29, 2004 @05:56PM (#10667965) Homepage
    That's why female Mac users sleep with male Wintel users. Why have a beautiful Mac and settle for an ugly man?
  • Re:Uhhh No (Score:4, Funny)

    by gordgekko (574109) on Friday October 29, 2004 @06:00PM (#10667989) Homepage
    People who fetishize an object need to develop outside interests. As in go outside and do something interesting...
  • Re:Uhhh No (Score:4, Funny)

    by psifishdot (699920) on Friday October 29, 2004 @06:32PM (#10668292) Homepage
    A PC user uses his machine to perform a task and thinks little of the machine itself. A Mac, on the other hand, is a key component of an integrated lifestyle.

    I wish someone had told me this BEFORE i bought my iBook last week... If I had known that it would require a lifestyle change, I'd have gotten another thinkpad.

    Integrated Lifestyle=
    /
    | lifestyle dMac
    /
  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Friday October 29, 2004 @06:34PM (#10668316) Homepage
    Slashdot. News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters, Failed Car Analogies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @06:40PM (#10668360)
    Why would someone not want a highly integrated computing experience?

    Because it is all proprietary? Because real hackers run a free OS on x86 hardware? Because Mac users are flaky new age birkenstock wearing twits?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @06:48PM (#10668436)
    Mac users are a cult. I propose that they're actually more like sheep than Windows users. They're the stupid kids that get a peircing 'cause it's "Rebelious" only to eventually realize everyone's got a piercing. Idiots.

    My company distributes a product that is not compatible with Macs. Not our fault, we tried to work with Apple to get them to raise their standards in some specific areas, but they're not interested right now. No big deal. Since Mac users can't use our stuff, we don't want them hounding our sales people about it, so we don't let them on our website.

    I've been collecting some of my favorite responses to this policy....

    Wed Sep 08 17:00:52 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    support mac you idiots!

    Wed Sep 08 18:18:54 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Support Macs, you assholes. you suck.

    Wed Sep 08 20:24:38 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Thanks for being lazy dick heads for not supporting Mac. Please Die.

    Wed Sep 08 21:55:34 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Support Mac OS X you bitches

    Thu Sep 09 00:10:53 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Eat shit you miserable pricks.

    Thu Sep 09 02:31:32 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Fuck you if you don't support Mac.

    Thu Sep 09 03:19:32 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Support mac u dix
    Yours truly

    Thu Sep 09 10:57:56 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    As a Mac user, you suck!!!!!

    Fri Sep 10 00:37:38 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    You people just fucking suck. Write your site to some damn standards and don't lock out a sizeable percentage of internet usage. Fuckers.

    Fri Sep 10 05:36:46 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    PS: Fuck you for not supporting other systems. Maybe I said that before. I'll say it again. Fuck you.

    Fri Sep 10 16:39:28 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    why not support mac? afraid that life might get simpler? lazy bones!

    Fri Sep 10 21:03:53 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    You guys are real smart to ignore Mac users, afterall it's only 30% of the market. Keep up the good work!
    Idiots!

    Mon Sep 13 19:19:54 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Screw you for not supporting Mac. I hope you fail.

    Tue Sep 14 23:20:52 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    support Mac you assholes!
    Your missing out on millions of users

    Wed Sep 15 02:35:39 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    Fuck you for not supporting the mac.

    Thu Sep 16 19:07:21 GMT 2004
    An anonymous user provided the following Customer Feedback :
    fuck you for not supporting macs

  • by mooreBS (796555) on Friday October 29, 2004 @07:05PM (#10668564)
    I've got a life. An iLife. [apple.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @10:05PM (#10669508)
    This sucks. I bought a mac to be different, but now it seems I am cool. Dammit.

    Seriously though, I have taken so much flak for using macs over the years, I get a little irritated when I get accused of using a mac to be 'cool'.
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Friday October 29, 2004 @11:43PM (#10669934) Journal
    If you and your missus really thought different, you would have brought her home.

    Oh well. There's always tiger.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken

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