As you might know by now, my Internet friend and fellow legal marketer Larry Bodine has caused a major brouhaha by first switching to a Mac computer and then declaring it to be inadequate in Law Technology News. Now he’s getting hate mail and obscene late night phone messages. LOTS of hate mail. In fact, some conspiracy theorists have slyly suggested that Larry wrote what he did in order to drive traffic to his blog. I don’t believe it, but if so, he certainly succeeded. I have stayed out of the fray, mostly because I don’t much give a damn what computer anyone other than me uses, but here are my thoughts:
1. I am a Mac fan and have used them exclusively since the late 1980’s. I have 10 Macs in my office. Just for fun…here’s my first Mac, the SE20. It had one megabyte of
RAM, a 20-megabyte hard drive, and a 9-inch black & white monitor.
This was hot stuff in 1989 for use in something called "desktop
2. There is a word, and a behavior, that has fallen into disuse: comity. I’d like to see it in modern American politics, I’d like to see it in modern American life in general, and I’d like to see it in the behavior of Mac fans. 3. Trying to swim in another culture can be enormously frustrating. I lived in France for a while, and let me tell you, when I first moved there, I had a massive headache every night. Why won’t they speak slower? Why won’t they serve me lunch at 3 p.m.? Why won’t they bag the groceries? Why can’t I buy an aspirin in a supermarket (you have to go to a pharmacy)? Why is some key employee group (mail carriers, teachers, farmers, air traffic controllers, railway workers, etc.) always on strike? And on and on. As a longtime user of Microsoft Word, I once tried to use WordPerfect. My head almost imploded. Why won’t it work like Word? I suspect that, as a lifetime PC user, Larry’s attempted switch to Mac had the same effect on him. He was undergoing culture shock. 4. Lawyers, and those who work in the legal field, are impatient. I don’t know Larry well enough to comment on his psychology, but I don’t think I would go too far afield to guess that he is a classic Type A, quick-start. One of the most successful features on the Smart Marketing website is a big red button on the home page that says "Click if you’re impatient." Since I can track what page our website inquiries come from, I can tell you that we get more from that "Impatient" button than any other locus. I suspect Larry tried to do everything on a Mac (lured by the machine’s reputation for intuitive use — Mac users are famous for ignoring manuals), became quickly frustrated, and vented his frustration in public, enraging the legions of Mac fanatics.
Massachusetts is holding an election for Governor. One of the candidates, and the Democratic nominee, Deval Patrick, is a criminal defense attorney. According to his Republican opposition, that’s reason enough to vote against him — just look at all the scum he has defended: cop-killers, rapists, mafiosi (not that there is any such thing as the mafia, I hasten to add), and other examples of the best
mankind has to offer. The story has several other delicious ironies — what we used to call in the newspaper business "angles" — including that the Democrat defense attorney scumbag has been endorsed by several major police groups, and that, of the four candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, three are lawyers. Two notions present themselves. First, it is very difficult for most people to understand Voltaire’s dictum, I depise what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Most people have no sympathy for free speech for Nazis, nor for the rights of violent criminals. They don’t seem to accept that by ensuring the rights of the worst of us, we guarantee those rights for all of us. Second, lawyers do a rotten job of presenting their own case. It doesn’t help that for the most part, they stink at customer service (you know, really difficult things like answering the phone and showing up for appointments on time), but it is also true that they are terrible at their own profession’s PR. The result? As the article says, lawyers make "easy targets who rank near car salesmen and telemarketers on most people’s lovability scale."
First Amendment attorney Julie Hilden thinks it would be a disaster for state bars to begin treating blogs as advertising — requiring all the ridiculous oversight currently given to direct mail, newspaper advertising, and the like. Read her thoughtful, well-argued essay here. And, a tip of the hat to Jonathan Stein for the link.