My esteemed colleagues have been writing about their identity crises with the use of multiple platforms and if they can rationalize their ideological disassociation from the use of technology lately.
From the sounds of these guys, it seems as if it is difficult for them to rationalize their activities on a Personal Computing standpoint. Really, I can assure you, it isn't.
None of this platform schizophrenia is new, as at least as it applies to Enterprise computing. Multiplatformism and Heterogeneity are part of the very basic foundations of Information Technology. I accept them at face value the same way I accept the laws of physics and Darwinism.
For some reason, I still get plenty of questions from readers how I can possibly justify using X when I don't use Y, or why I can somehow use X and W and Z and feel right with myself. I'll tell you why. I've been doing this for many, many years, and I don't intend to stop doing it now.
I've been around the block long enough to watch many waves in Information Technology and Personal Computing. I observed and participated in the emergence of and mass migration from the Apple ][ to the IBM PC and DOS-based systems. Then I was unlucky enough to be a combatant in the first wave of OS wars back in the early 1990s, when IBM OS/2 and Microsoft Windows were both vying for attention as the future 32-Bit multitasking graphical desktop.
At the tender age of 22, I was an OS/2 advocate. On bulletin boards and in local user groups, I preached the superior technology OS/2 had over Windows 3.1, with its ability to pre-emptively multi-task and multi-thread and use protected memory and run applications with its more advanced Object-Oriented GUI. Back when software stores such as Egghead and Babbages used to exist, I did volunteer demos of the software on in-store PCs.
I wasn't even an IBM employee at the time, just a smart-ass kid that liked to get into punk fights with the same exact sort of rabid people that feel the need to show how much "better" they are than everyone else in the ZDNet Talkbacks.
Indeed, these were the very same kind of people with nothing else to do with their time, but the enabling technology to fight with each other was more difficult to use and it could be argued you had to be more intelligent to use it, so the quality of our trolls was much better. Sorry ZDNet Talkbackers, but you're no COMP.OS.OS2.ADVOCACY on 1990's-era USENET or CANOPUS on CompuServe.
One very good thing did come out of this -- I met my future wife for the first time in person when I was doing an OS/2 demo at an Egghead Software in Paramus, NJ in late 1994. I was incredibly impressed she knew how to tweak her own WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI, CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. We then went out for cheap Chinese food and saw Star Trek: Generations. It was a simpler time. But I digress.
When Windows 95 came out, I was still a good soldier and remained convinced of OS/2's superiority, but when Windows NT 4.0 went into beta, merging the GUI of Windows 95 with the systems architecture of Windows NT, I knew that OS/2's fate was sealed. Indeed, it turned out to be a very long decline, but I defected early. People got very angry at me over it.
I learned a very valuable lesson from all of this. I realized what I truly was -- a Multiplatformist. Someone who has no allegiance to any particular technology or system or product, but a person who picks the mix of tools and products that suit their business needs and lifestyle. And as the technology evolves and changes, they re-evaluate their usage and their needs and adjust and switch out accordingly.
Today I participate in and observe the technology industry. As a writer who chronicles the goings-on of the industry, it's a necessity that I use many different types of technologies and products -- different flavors of operating systems, different types of hardware, different types of devices, and so on.
But even if I didn't participate in the media, I probably would still be using a mix of things. Why? Because mixing and matching technology is the only thing that makes sense to me.
I don't believe in religious attachments to technology either. Complete platform lock-in and vendor control is very much a turn-off to me, but if the technology is compelling enough -- such as in the case of the iPad -- which is my first Apple computer product in 27 years, I can make a personal usage case. It's a great product, albeit with some annoying restrictions.
So do I like Open Systems and Open Source? Sure. A lot. I wouldn't have spent more than 10 years writing about it if I didn't. But it's not going to stop me from using stuff made by Microsoft either.
The analogy that I would like to use for the Multiplatformist is the home theater component/audiophile one.
Many people like to go out and buy integrated components from a single vendor, like those BOSE or SONY systems. They sound nice enough, but if you're truly into audio and video, you'll pick best of breed -- receiver from one vendor, amplifier from another, blu-ray from one more, and speakers from yet another.
Is it easier to go single vendor? Maybe. But to us Multiplatformists and true computing enthusiasts, being our own system integrator is the only thing that will ever make sense to us. And I suspect that this is the norm for many, many people who work in this industry.
So yes, I use an iPad, I run Windows 7 on my desktop, I have Linux servers and virtual machines, and I use Google services and Android. Don't like it? SO SUE ME!
Are you also a Multiplatformist? Talk Back and Let Me Know.
Disclaimer: The postings and opinions on this blog are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.