Saturday, February 9, 2008

In The Presidential Election Race The Decision May Be Clearer Than We Think!

The race is on. The decision is a tough one. Man vs. Woman. Black vs. White. Pub vs. Dem. Umberto Eco’s tongue-in-cheek theological analysis of the computer war that he wrote in 1994 has stood up well and is still entertaining, capturing a great deal of essential truth. In a politically-oriented riff on Mac vs. PC, NY Times Noam Cohen has posted a piece proposing that "Styles make fights - or so goes the boxing cliché. In 2008, it seems they make presidential campaigns, too. This is especially true for the two remaining Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The experts seem to agree. The differences between and can be summed up this way: Barack Obama is a Mac, and Hillary Clinton is a PC. I guess that makes the decision pretty simple, hunh?

Mr Cohen notes that "Mr. Obama's site is more harmonious, with plenty of white space and a soft blue palette. Its task bar is reminiscent of the one used at Apple's iTunes site." And he's right. There definitely is a thematic familiarity on the Obama site for those of us who spend time on Apple's Websites. Obama’s site, all the features and elements are seamlessly integrated, just like the experience of using any program on a Mac. It is designed even down to the playful logos that illustrate choices like, Volunteer or Register to Vote. It's like the packaging Apple uses to woo its customers.

That said, Cohen continues: "In contrast to, Mrs. Clinton's site uses a more traditional color scheme of dark blue, has sharper lines dividing content and employs cookie-cutter icons next to its buttons for volunteering, and the like...." Right again. Hillary’s text is all caps, like shouting. There are many messages vying for attention. Candidates are building a brand and it should be consistent. Just look at thoseWindows-esque, squared-off buttons. It also reminds me a bit of the Firefox browser, but never mind....

I would say that is even more Apple-esque in its button bars and general look than even the Obama site. That would be thematically and stylistically consistent with Mr. McCain's rep. as the maverick, non-establishment candidate.

On the other hand, even though he's dropped out of the race and all you get is his Thank You notice, Mitt Romney's site at, reminded me a lot of Mrs. Clinton's, although he has a more attractive button-bar than she does, but his was horribly slow to load and was the only one that wouldn't fit comfortably on my PowerBook's 1024 x 768 display. I would have to say that in the Republican context, John McCain is the Mac and Mitt Romney the PC. But what do I know?

Unlike the Pubs, the Dems have incorporated social-networking tools to their sites — allowing supporters to create their own groups, for example and Mr. Obama is considered the pacesetter. In the long run, it may not be the ability to motivate the electorate that matters, just a simple matters of style. The iPod is the dominant music player, but the Mac is still a niche computer. The PC will probably carry Electoral College (with Mac perhaps carrying Vermont). Yeah, well maybe, but like Mr. Obama, the Mac is the one with momentum right now, having doubled its market share over the past three years! Ladies and Gentleman...may I introduce to you, the new President of the United States, The Apple Macintosh!