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[tech] Talking about closed computing ecosytems

To state the bleedingly obvious, one of the great divides in contemporary consumer computing and telephony technology is the question of open versus closed. Speaking loosely, this is true both at the licensing level (Linux vs most of the world) and at the operational level (Linux and Windows vs Mac). There are equivalent tugs of war in the cell phone world.

In a recent comment thread on my woes with the Pioneer Place Apple Store, [info]a_cubed said:

WRT Apple, well this is what you get for buying into a closed ecosystem. You’re at their mercy. As much as possible I use ecosystems that are as open as possible. It’s getting harder because there are costs to openness that I could go on about at length, but really it’s a case of short term versus long term benefit. You may get short term benefit from engaging in a closed ecosystem, but in the long run they’ll screw you when you have no alternative. THis is why monopolies are usually technically illegal, though these days it can be politically impossible to truly deal with a monopoly (compare the MS cases and Standard Oil cases).

My response was:

I’m well aware of the closed ecosystem issues, both as a philosophical problem and as more focused business problem. But I’m also well aware of my own time/value equations.

I’ve been a Mac user since 1985 and a Windows user since 1997, with several stints in Linux as well, and I can tell you that the total amount of time I’ve spent on software and hardware hassles (install, configuration, updates, bugs at whatever level, weird incompatibilities, etc.) in over a quarter century of being a Mac user is less than I spend on any given year using either Windows or Linux.

Despite having a deep technical background and being fairly capable when not in the throes of chemo brain, I don’t fundamentally enjoy troubleshooting and configuration, and it’s a zero value (or worse) use of my time compared to other activities like writing or hanging out with my loved ones.

A better than 1:25 ratio of my time expended on unnecessary issues that don’t advance my productivity one iota is a pretty compelling argument to me personally for holding my nose and coping with the walled garden.

I realize that the whole Mac vs PC discussion is profoundly polarized, Things which are as obvious as “this way is down” to one faction seem outright delusional to the other. For my part, the value of my time trumps the other arguments. “How can you put up with such absolute third party control of your environment” balances against “How can you put up with spending so much of your time chasing device drivers and running down incompatibilities”.

For my part, the value of a smooth, uninterrupted and well-designed computing experience trumps all the pain Windows and Linux have put me through over the years. For others, the equation is different.

Where do you fall on this?

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