Friday, January 14, 2005

Social Capital, Macintosh, Windows

by Asim Jalis

I was reading that Mac has a much more vibrant shareware community than the PC. As Robert Putnam would put it, the Apple community has more social capital than the Windows community. In the Windows world everyone is out for himself. In the Apple world on the other hand people are more conscientious about paying shareware costs. Apple attracts the kind of people who send off their checks to PBS regularly every year. A disproportionate number of people on the shareware authors list write only for the Mac. For example, consider this: Excerpt: "I have bought more software for my Mac than I ever did for my Windows PCs, most of it shareware. Is it really that much higher quality? Or am I buying her [i.e. the Mac] presents?" Can this be replicated in the Windows world? I don't know. It's possible that because the Apple community is a smaller and more endangered species, it is more altruistic. If Apple becomes more dominant, it too might suffer from the tragedy of the commons. On the other hand, the Mac has always struck me as more of a religion than a computer. It naturally attracts a certain kind of people. This both limits its ability to become dominant, and gives it the aura of transcendental ethereality that Windows lacks.