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Religious Apologist or webOS fanboy?

September 4, 2011

I was going to have this great little game, where I post quotes I’ve found from the internet (either through sites in the Mormon blogging world or from webOS fan sites), stripping away information that would give them away and then getting people to guess about who made the comment: was it a religious apologist or a software fanboy?

But I decided that that would be a lot of work and I didn’t want to search for multiple quotes (although I am seeing comments like these more and more…)

But here is just one recent quotation:

Funny, when I want something to go well I don’t spend all my time pointing out it’s [sic] negatives in public. I work behind the scenes to make it better. Why would someone want to use webOS if fans like you don’t even want to use it or point out it’s pluses? I’m realistic but I’m not a drag. A million new users is something worth cheering about!

HP TouchPad firesale lines

Surely such lines all for the HP TouchPad must be good?

This was a post on PreCentral in a thread discussing how after HP’s firesale for the TouchPad, there may have been 800,000 to 900,000 TouchPads sold. The issue: obviously, the firesale prices were below HP’s cost of goods sold, so the debate was whether HP could sustain a loss on every TouchPad sold through other means (for example, long-term benefits of having a larger userbase, etc.,)

If you’re used to this site and the things I post, I don’t think I should have to spell out the comparison…but needless to say, the webOS community has proven to be kinda like the Mormon community online. (And this has been referred in various extents on twitter, with people loosely decrying how webOS supporters seem almost religious in their devotion to the platform [and I've written about that fanboy/religion connection at Wheat and Tares]…all the way up to my analogizing what religion different mobile OSes would be, with surprising metaphor continuity*.)

*I’ll say that the ex-webOS/exMormon connection has metaphor continuity not because I think exMormons are “try[ing] to convince others not too stay with webOS,” but rather because even for this mobile OS, you see people who similarly feel betrayed by an institution (HP more often, Palm less often), who feel that they had been led to expect something that was not actually the case, and who have friendships built around this one issue that break apart after “falling away” from the OS. And the diversity of webOS expatriates is interestingly similar to that for exMormons…you do see people who continue to post about webOS…others who make nuisances on fan sites…but others still who don’t say much at all about it. And, a most probably silent majority who never tweeted or posted on forums about this stuff anyway and so who drift silently away.

But let’s look at that quote from above. How does one support a community or idea? While people assume that critics just want to destroy, many critics say alternatively that they want to encourage change…that they want people to see that the emperor has no clothes not to raise a coup against the emperor, but so that people can actually work to make the emperor some beautiful clothes. Leaving a community — voting with one’s feet — is sometimes seen as the only way to send a clear signal of dissent.

Yet…supporters often disagree with that premise and approach. Support requires a kind of public loyalty…that you don’t air out the group’s dirty laundry, but work on things internally, behind the scenes. From this perspective, exit is not a productive means of articulating criticism.

The two perspectives often are irreconcilable. It’s too easy to look at the division as being “people who are in” or “people who are loyal” or “people who believe” vs. “people who are out” or “people who criticize” or “people who disbelieve”, instead of looking at what the hopes of the various people are (and I would submit that, whether it’s a mobile OS or a religion, a lot of the times both sides want to see the same changes. There are enough Bloggernacle posts expressing worries about the same things for which Outer Blogness posts express worries.)

It’s just unfortunate that we don’t see eye-to-eye enough to recognize that the reason we don’t is because we are both looking outward, in the same direction.

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