My Appeal

In these dire days, it distresses me greatly to hear about hatred amongst the suppressed computer communities. Not enough that we are under pressure by the IBM compatible community, there is squabbling and infighting eating away at our very core.

You may wonder why any of us should care. Why should the C64 community care about the Archimedes community, why MacIntosh owners about Atari ST? It's quite simple: Computer diversity is in danger. More and more people begin to believe that only IBM compatibles are computers. Many people don't care about the price all of us have paid so that Gates and M$ may get rich. Some even believe him to be a benevolent hero, while, as we know, overspecialization leads to weakness. The other computers must not be forgotten, all of us have to survive. If we start infighting, we are doing their dirty work.

So, what do I want? I want the communities to work together. No matter what terrible things one community may have done to another, we are all now refugees driven near the brink of extinction. If we don't act now and cooperate, the future generations will probably lost to a world dominated by one firm with the people serving the computers (and in effect that firm) instead of the other way around. If we don't fight for true computer literacy, the future will be filled with people believing computers to be magical boxes that use arcane powers and/or God's blessing to work miracles. Humanity is risking to lose control. If you think that I am exaggerating, consider how much you know about how an IBM compatible based on a Pentium III works. How much control do you really have, especially if using M$ software. Look at your neighbor. Do you think he really knows what a hard disk is, the difference between RAM and ROM? It has already started, and we have to stop it.

How do the communities work together? There are many ways in how the communities can help each other. First of all, we should try to get to know each other. If two clubs/groups associated to different machines find out that they are based in close vicinity to each other, they should try to have parties/events together. Information should be exchanged as different computers solve problems differently, inspiring other programmers to find new solutions. Even if there are no organized communities, try to keep track of those of your acquaintances having an unusual computer. If you hear about events that may be interesting for others, spread them. If you come across computers lying in the garbage, save them, even if you don't use that particular model. With a little bit of effort, I am sure that you can find a community that can take care of it, even if it is broken. Our computers aren't built anymore, we are running out of machines and spare parts, thus every machine is a valuable resource that has to be preserved.

When dealing with others, try to spread the word. If you have family, or know children, show them how computers really work. Make them understand that there is no magic inside those boxes. Among your friends, question those who believe in buying a new computer at least once a year. Help friends not computer literate to find the right computer for their needs, even if it is an IBM compatible. Push the argument for usage of the computer that can do the job, and not the biggest game in town. After all, why should grandpa use a Pentium 4 with enhanced 3 D grafix to write a letter once a week? Try to return common sense to today's computer reality, and maybe, just maybe, we could stem the tide.

Please consider taking up the fight, or do you want a future where everything, including our houses, cars, motorcycles, is controlled by a company whose programs can't even convert data between each other correctly.