What gives the Net sects appeal.
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 95 23:39:32 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: What gives the Net sects appeal.
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (Keith Bostic)
WHAT GIVES THE NET SECTS APPEAL
-- by Jack Kapica [Globe and Mail, Friday, September 1, 1995.]
Last week's launch of Microsoft Windows 95 was the finest hour
for a peculiar segment of cyberspace: people who hate Microsoft. Hordes
of them assaulted the Internet and, by the time the flames had died down,
the whole thing looked more like a religious war than a triumphal product
Enough vituperative postings appeared to indicate a clear pattern:
Operating systems -- not computers -- are the true basis of technofaith.
so Cyberia has recorded the conflicting dogmatic clusters and herewith
presents a quick tour of silicon sanctimony.
WINDOWERS: By far the largest faith community, Windowers (whose
membership accounts for some 80 per cent of the world's microcomputers)
are a lazy, orthodox bunch. They take their god (the Intel microchip)
for granted, and make any sacrifice their prophet, Microsoft boss Bill
Gates, asks of them. All Windowers know their bible is flawed, but
they're the biggest sect, and running with the herd is so much easier than
straying from the flock.
WARPISM: IBM thought it could defy the prophet Gates and split
with Microsoft in 1988 because its ambition was to come up with a purer
form of the faith. It was a kind of reformation, and its end result was
truly sound doctrine. The holy book was called OS/2 Warp. But despite
the massive evangelical efforts by those cute Czech nuns and telepathic
Buddhist monks in the TV ads, Warp converted few unbelievers outside large
corporations, leaving its missionaries bewildered and angry.
APPLE/MACINTOSHISM: Applites are the first monotheists -- they
alone have the true, original religion (the interface loaded with, ahem,
icons), and they *know* the rest of the world will convert eventually.
Windows 95, they sneer, is "just like System 7," an already outdated
Macintosh scripture. Yet even while the rest of the world rewrites its
creeds to resemble Applism more closely, no one will admit it, and the
final result is the same -- Macintosh still claims only 8 per cent of the
DOS: An almost extinct cult, DOS is the pagan religion of the
computing world. To DOSsers, Windows is a temporary modernist aberration,
like rock-and-roll church services. They preach the purity and
fundamentalism of their command-line approach, which rejects graphics and
icons as works of the devil. They're immediately recognizable by their
quaint programmes, unformatted text and complete bewilderment by the World
Wide Web, which requires the graphical interface of Windows, Macintosh or
Warp to understand. Occasionally, the reminisce about the polytheistic
days of CP/M, the operating system before DOS, when each computer's
doctrine was written in its own language and no machine could communicate
GENERICISM: A variation on fundamental revivalism, genericism is
the fastest-growing faith. Although it accepts Windows 3.1, adherents
reject everything Microsoft has made since. Best recognized by their
hatred of large corporations, they worship shareware and freeware products
made by lonely martyrs in university basements. Their nirvana, actually
a very tempting place, is called Virtual Software Library
(http://vsl.cnet.com/), a temple built to independent software production.
UNIXIITY: Not really a faith as much as a priesthood, Unix is an
agnostic order that derives its special secret knowledge from machines
that run on the impenetrable Unix softwares. Because these machines are
the backbone of the Internet, Unixites behave like smug, autocratic
bishops and sneer at the lack of orthodoxy amid the squabbling masses.
God's work, they know, is never done.
© 1995 Peter Langston