A professor of this College has simple words to say about the immortal debate, which, for tech-enthusiasts anyway, rival the rhetorical question surrounding the age-old chicken and her egg: “Mars, once you go Mac, you never go back.” A recent convert of Apple’s growing cult, he excitedly slips into a discussion about its comparative ease of use, its architecture, and how he no longer has to concern himself with viruses. To hear him describe the experience, it would seem that Apple has heralded the dawn of tech civilization - a far cry from clunky, old-fashioned Windows with its once prominent ‘blue screen of death.’ I sit in the room amazed at how his assessment mimicked my own thoughts not too long ago when I first unboxed, held, and experienced the beauty obviously inherent in the Mac. The PC, I declared then, was a relic of an Age gone by. It was now Friendster of today’s Facebook. The girlfriend, a staunch devotee of the Cult, casually refers to Windows as “the dark side” of the Force. Though I find myself reassessing that statement today (for reasons which will require a separate paper altogether), I surprise myself in recommending the public sector’s wide-spread adoption of the Mac for the very reason that I’m starting to shy away from it.
As an underlying philosophy, the Mac favors the use of its own internal applications and discourages the user’s attempt at tinkering behind its custom-built operating system. As opposed to the PC’s open (even challenging) question of “What do you prefer?”, the Mac calmly says: “Use this. Look, it’s pretty. Don’t worry about anything else. See? It just works.” The PC, to use Justice Cardozo’s words, is simply “delegation running riot.” Considering that Juan de la Cruz has been using Windows since grade school, that he cares not a whit for government-owned property under his temporary stewardship (see the tragedy of the commons), and that there is an unrivaled selection of third-party applications in the PC ecosystem with its troubling deluge of viruses and malware, I posit that giving the public sector employee a PC is akin to giving him Pandora’s box.
In sum, the PC is open, the Mac is “closed.” The potential for harm, mismanagement and loss, therefore is more potent in the former rather than in the latter. I find it heartening then that Apple is making some headway in the mainstream with customers like my professor. Though the suggestion that the public sector utilize these for everyday tasks doesn’t seem likely considering the present state of government coffers, my opinion is that the eventual use of a custom-built system, one resembling Apple’s walled garden, would be best for government information systems. Until then, however, Steve Jobs will have to settle for ready and willing customers -people like the girlfriend and the professor who adore the simple intricacies of something that "just works."