Fifteen Years of Tao of Mac

Any way I look at it, this site is effectively fifteen years old this year–although it started out under another domain name, it’s been publicly called since September 18th, 2003, and spotted by Netcraft in November of the same year. For most of that time I’ve written about the Mac, Apple or mobile tech in one form or another, and it’s been a rollercoaster in more ways than one.

The site itself has waxed and waned in popularity over the years, as has the balance between obligation and enjoyment in maintaining it, but it has chugged along throughout becoming a parent (twice), a number of medical incidents (of which this one was the most colorful, but certainly not the most serious), and three changes in employer (and industry).

Apple-related blogging was a niche thing fifteen years ago, and my not being in the US (or part of the anointed who actually attend Apple events) wasn’t a serious handicap in joining the fun, because most of the people who wrote about Apple and the Mac did so with their own voices and at a deeply personal level.

Right now it doesn’t really have the kind of popularity it had before social networks and commercial sites drew away the bulk of traffic by dint of hype and horrid fascination, but I still get enough visitors and feedback to make this more than a set of semi-personal notes–most of my audience doesn’t come from HackerNews or Twitter, and that’s a good thing.

Waves Of Change

Over the last decade and a half, the computing landscape changed tremendously, and even considering I enjoyed a ringside seat in the rise of mobility and connectivity1, the site soon stopped being just about the Mac and more about the iPhone–and, later, as the smartphone revolution raged on and my family grew, more about what tech I could squeeze in during my leisure time.

A nice change is that Linux, Android and Open Source are now everywhere, but that also means there is too much to cover and fiddle with, as well as the emergence of “new normals” for Apple’s ecosystem to compete with in several fronts.

As time moved on my priorities changed, but it’s fun to look back and watch some patterns emerge as mobility turned computers into phones and computing itself upside down. Software and applications bet increasingly on mass appeal2 over sophistication, and even if it meant seemingly endless variations on flashlight apps for mobile phones in the early days, billions more people have access to them now.

A broader audience also means that many niches became mainstream markets–just look at the size of Fortnite, which is today’s closest analogue to Quake, and how mobile gaming and streaming entertainment have grown into massive industries in their own right.

Behind The Scenes

The machinery running the site itself also changed a lot (and I’ve kept a list of the hows and wheres), but one of the main reasons the site lasted this long is that I removed nearly all the friction involved in authoring and publishing–for a long time now, I just drop Markdown files onto Dropbox and they pop up online, which is almost as easy as impulse tweeting even if it requires a lot more forethought and reviewing (which, as anyone in the writing business will readily point out, is the actual work it entails).

Fifteen years after I decided to go all out on the Mac to make my life easier, the Cambrian explosion of mobility and its demand for server-side compute has reached beyond carriers to the datacenter, and companies are (finally) following suit and moving their stuff to the cloud. Distributed systems and scalable software architecture is now the critical (but, alas, underrated) factor to grow a mass-market business, and high-impact, heavy demand workloads like machine learning are suddenly everywhere–so most software I care about these days is server-side software that runs on Linux, and not anything I can run on my Mac.

But I still develop on my Mac, and derive much more enjoyment from the experience than anywhere else3, even if the paradigms and user experience of the stuff I build have changed as dramatically as TV (which my kids can’t believe wasn’t pausable and rewindable before).

I can’t be sure that the Mac itself will be around (or in my life) for another fifteen years, but I had no guarantees back when I started writing, and what drove me to start (effortless, frictionless doing) is still valid today, and that is good enough for me.

Thanks for reading, and hope to see you around for another fifteen years.

  1. While I was at Vodafone (which resulted in dozens of posts with notes on phones, most of which were completely obsolete and have slowly been removed, and The Blue Packet, which is a parody of that grand failed experiment that was Vodafone 360). ↩︎

  2. Which, sadly, was largely about dumbing down both the apps themselves (and the experience) and the ways they are built (and no, I’m not happy about the rise of web apps, not technically). ↩︎

  3. Even working at Microsoft and quite liking Windows 10’s Linux subsystem, I still prefer using a Mac for creative work, although to be honest I’m perfectly happy with a decent console on any OS. ↩︎

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