A Matter of Identity


I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately during my commutes, and the latest is Andy Ihnatko’s Almanac. The first episode is rather more unique than usual (seeing as it’s nearly a blow-by-blow of his reaction to the elections), but there was something else there that struck a nerve.

Like him, I’ve always (well, for the past couple of decades, at least) thought of myself as a Mac person (more on the UNIX side of things, but you get my point). And like him, I felt that my identity was shaped (or at least resonated) by the machines I used and the conscious choice I made to use them instead of lessermainstream defaults, and by the stuff I created using them.

And, obviously, the changes in what we used to call “computing” and this evolving reality in which literally everyone on the planet above poverty level carries on them some form of computing device is a profound rift between what we expected computing to become and what it actually is these days – which segues nicely into the current debacle regarding the MacBook Pro, the future of desktop Macs and, eventually, a larger rift between a professional workstation (for whatever job) and pocketable hardware.

As it turns out, our identity becomes inextricably enmeshed in those things, both large and fuzzy in scope (like platforms and future directions) and small and nitpicky (like scripting and keyboard feel).

I’ve been pondering the issue of identity (both private and public) for a little over a year now – joining Microsoft was an easy decision to make, but one that challenged my identity in multiple ways.

I’ve come to terms with the contradiction of working there and still being a UNIX guy first and foremost, but there’s a fork in the road up ahead where I’m going to have to choose (again) between technology and business, and it’s time to sit back, enjoy the scenery for a few weeks and figure out how my goals, wants and needs (and, most importantly, my identity) fit into the grand scheme of things.

One thing’s for sure, though. I’m going to cross that line using a Mac, and there better be new models on the other side.