Posts tagged ‘politics’

If Democrats were Operating Systems

Now that we’re mired in the 2008 presidential election, there are the constant comparisons of the potential nominees; to each other, to politicians past, even to people in other fields. These discussions can get heated, as the folks who support their chosen candidate (sometimes blindly) square off against their rivals. This happens during any kind of contest that pits one camp against another, whether its something trivial like American Idol or election to the nation’s highest office.
In the technology realm we have the same kinds of contention. People pick what they believe is the best solution for their needs, and push that belief hard onto the community: The tech field is one of the few places you’ll see the word “evangelism” outside religion.
So being the dork I am, I began to see a parallel between one of the long-standing tech contests, the choice of Operating System, and the current trio of Democratic Party frontrunners for the presidency. And to add a touch of anticipation, I will do the description first, then tell you which candidate fits that bill. I hope it seems easy, or else I’m way off with this!

Candidate 1 – Windows: Windows has been around for a long time, some would say “entrenched”, in the OS world. Windows touts this as its greatest asset: Everything works on it, its backwards-compatible (to an extent) so even old, kludgy programs will continue to work (to an extent: Windows would rather you upgrade to the new versions, though). Everyone knows Windows, and even though it has problems, sometimes crashes inexplicably, and sometimes isn’t compatible with some programs, only the really discontented or change-minded will abandon the well-known, familiar interface to try something new. For the majority out there, though, they will stick with what they know. Their only request: Don’t get in the way of being productive. Allowing us to use whatever tools we want is Windows’ best attribute, but when the OS becomes the problem, then we may start looking elsewhere.
This is | Hillary Clinton |Highlight between lines to reveal

Candidate 2 – Mac OS X: The Mac OS X is shiny, slick, and attractive. It has a lot of interesting features, and elicits “oo”s and “ah”s from folks unfamiliar with it. Its accessible to most folks, though not immediately intuitive to folks used to Windows-style OS. It goes on the motto of “Think Different”, though its main take-home point seems to be “we’re not Windows”. That alone is enough for many Windows users to take the plunge and adopt this OS. There has been Mac style OSs for a long time, even before the Windows paradigm. And this style of presentation has worked like crazy on smaller platforms. But for most users, tied to their existing legacy programs in the Windows world, are hesitant to make the change, seeing how few programs run on OS X compared to the current Windows landscape. Those who use this OS, a so-called “cult” of sorts, trumpet that this system is far superior to the current dominant OS with zealous fervor, often making the OS itself a subject of parody or ridicule. However Mac OS X is showing that it can compete as an effective platform, and, with some tweaks, can do pretty much whatever Windows can do. It will come down to whether users, used to doing their work with the Windows family, can be convinced enough to switch.
This is | Barack Obama |Highlight between lines to reveal

Candidate 3 – Linux: Almost perpetually in third place, but gaining acceptance, Linux touts stability and a lineage built on understanding of how things really work. Loyal yet bitter, the Linux supporters cannot understand why their OS isn’t more popular. They cite the solid underpinnings, the features that people seemingly crave for but continue to miss in their Windows world. Yet Linux seems always to be regarded as a niche OS, not ready to be the main player. Supporters will say that you can run any program on Linux that you could run on the others, and it would be just as good, though not as familiar as a Windows program or as slick as a Mac OS program. They also are confused at the myriad looks and feels that Linux presents, and it keeps them from learning more, turning them to the familiar Windows feel or the easy-to-grasp OS X interface. There also seems to be a wariness by the typical user of Linux’s “good-ole-boy” Unix lineage, which comes across as a closed, insular group inaccessible by the layperson. However, as users across the board become more savvy with their technology choices, Linux could be viewed as the real alternative they’ve been looking for.
This is | John Edwards |Highlight between lines to reveal

Of course there were other democratic nominees before Iowa and New Hampshire rendered them irrelevant. They can be…I don’t know…BeOS and OS/2: They could have been important, but eh, who cares?

So could I do a comparison like this for the Republican candidates? I think this blog would already be flamed to a crisp for being superficial and glib, so I won’t throw more kerosene on it. But, in my opinion, a Republican candidate comparison would be more like comparing Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Take whatever punditry you want from that analogy.