Mac on Ski’s

I came across this article on a few other blogs this afternoon, entitled “the Mac on Skis.” Of course this piqued my interest on both fronts – skiing and computers. I am a ski fanatic and an Apple fanatic. Now, I can’t really determine the exact dating of when this was written, judging by the photograph, likely a while ago. The Graduated Learning Method that the writer heavily relies on to form the analogy has come and gone in many different renditions. The most recent in my mind as something akin to an EZ 1-2-3 Learn to Ski promotional offer we taught at Sugar Bowl, say, 8 years ago in which we got beginner adults on super short, super sidecut skis. I think that methodology lasted maybe two seasons. 

“Now, it’s not fair to end this piece without mentioning that the GLM method of teaching skiing is controversial-and that it’s a learning, not a using method. Do those short skis make it so easy that people never graduate to long skis? Do they enable? Or do they cripple?

    One can ask the same questions about the Mac. Yes, it will invite lots of people to use a computer. But are they really using a computer? Will people graduate to a “real,” difficult computer, or will they always be stuck at the Mac level, reliant on the Mac’s friendly, comfy-boots interface, its consistent commands and its overall easiness? Or does it really matter so long as they get what they want out of their computer?
    Here our metaphor begins to break down. Short skis really don’t work as well at high speeds, for good skiers. But that’s not necessarily true of short-ski computers. Currently, the Macintosh has only limited memory, but that’s more of a financial consideration than a fundamental design problem. There’s no reason the Mac can’t get more powerful without losing its essential character. In fact, the Macintosh uses the power of a high-technology 68000 chip (the same that’s inside many $20,000 computers) to make itself easier. It’s inherently more powerful than the harder-to-use IBM PC, but its power makes things easier, not tougher, for the user.
    Incidentally, when I told Don Estridge, head of the IBM division that developed the PC, that the Mac was short skis, he thought for a moment, then said: “Yes, but tall people need long skis.” 

I have to almost laugh at the logic here. As history has continued on, both today’s Apple computers and products as well as the short ski revolution have lead to a complete departure and reinvention of personal computing and the sport of skiing. I think the ‘experts’ here are likely assumed to be professional ski racers, in which one really depends on ski length at 75mph. That is an illogical, far too black-and-white measure of skill level to reduce all users into a comparison against a very niche and specific aspect of the sport. Additionally, this very logic is what makes Apple’s Mac vs. PC ad’s so successful by pigeon holing PC’s into the all work and no play category.

In the past 11 years I have been a ski instructor, I have seen the sport change tremendously. I now ski on the shortest ski’s I have since before I stopped growing. Assuming short skis don’t work as well at high speeds is just downright false. There is a lot more technology behind today’s equipment and I would submit my 163’s are far faster AND far superior in fun AND far easier to ski than my 178 top-of-the-line GS skis were over a decade ago. Ditto for my iMac, and iPod and iPhone. But I’ll take short and fast on both fronts, thank you very much. And to prove my point:

[on a total side note, I actually grew up with the first skier in the above video, he lived up the street from us in grade school. He has an amazing story, seen below:]


~ by gdesign on November 24, 2008.

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