Re: [NTLK] Cults and other fun topics

From: Albert Muniz (
Date: Wed Mar 30 2005 - 07:47:20 PST

>I vaguely remember reading about a couple of people doing research=20
>about the newton culture and gathering interviews from the newtontalk=20
>community and others - is this them and their final results?

Yes, it is us. Al Muniz and Hope Schau.=20
We are still following the Newton saga, only we are being completely =
mis-represented in the press release about our article. We never said it =
was about getting together to =93worship a dead brand.=94 Ugh. Sorry, but =
I expected less sensationalism from U. of Chicago Press. I didn=92t think =
they=92d go all Springer on us.=20

And sorry I=92m so late responding to this thread. I=92ve been a little =
behind in my Newtontalk reading owing to the new quarter starting. Let me =
start off by saying I am a Newton fan and user myself (I own two) and I =
will be happy to answer any questions you may have on the list, via email =
or phone.

I would like to clear away some deadwood first. For starters, we never =
called the Newton community a cult. We simply noted the important role of =
stories in threatened groups and cults and extrapolated to some of what we =
saw here. Not that we would have been the first, though, to invoke the =
cult word with regards things Apple. Leander Kahney (of Wired News fame) =
called his book about the Mac community =93The Cult of Mac.=94 (=93The =
Cult of Mac=94 is also a title of a neat documentary about the Mac user =
community) Kahney=92s book, by the way, has been called =93a love letter =
to the Mac community,=94 and I would like to think that our journal =
article is similarly pro-Newton. I=92d also be happy to send anyone who =
wants one a copy of the paper we wrote.=20

As per the religious and magic themes, we are hardly the first to make =
this connection (and the way in which we make it is more reasonable than =
the press release would lead you to believe). There is actually a long =
line of work about magic, mystic and religious themes in the realm of =
science, computing and the Internet. I just finished reading another one =
=93The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace=94 by Margaret Wertheim. (It was quite =
good) Also see =93Techgnosis=94 by Erik Davis * (wrote for Wired Magazine).=
 Or =93The Religion of Technology=94 by David Noble. Things mystic =
actually show up a lot in computing and science.=20

And in communities centered on brands. Really. That=92s why what we were =
seeing was so fascinating (I=92ve seen similar themes among long-time Saab =
fans). And I don=92t think anyone in this community/listserv should be too =
surprised. It is a very self-aware group. Witness Greg =93Doc Clu=94 =
Goodwin=92s comment:

>In truth, Windows and the windows platform has made a great "devil" for =
>user groups over the years I think.

It is true! All strong and unified groups love a common enemy, even those =
groups focused on brands. Saab versus Volvo, Mac versus WinTel, Coke =
versus Pepsi, VW versus Honda (older and more obscure). Us versus them.=20

Anyway, I think I=92ve probably written way too long a message for =
starters, but I will be around and will be happy to discuss any or all of =
it. Please remember though, I=92m a Newton-ite myself, and we are both =
fans of the brand and the user community. Moreover, I have done many of =
these things with my Newton that we describe in the article (including =
forcing it in friends and co-workers=92 faces after it survived a fall off =
a high shelf and claiming that it was indestructible).

Long live the green.


Al Muniz
Hope Schau

Albert Muniz
DePaul University

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