Still no Year of the Geek

Forecasting is one industry that would wither and die if paid by results.

Whether predicting the weather, economy, or horse racing, few of our forecasts come close to the truth.

One school of prognosis appears to hedge, for example telling us that a summer’s day will bring sunny intervals and heavy showers, so that no matter what the actual outcome, they can be construed as correct because their forecast included all likely outcomes (apart from hail and snow, reserved for the Highlands).

The other school gets off the fence, making headlines with predictions of the spectacular, such as the legendary ‘barbecue summer’, on the off-chance that one day they might be right.

So I am not going to make any forecasts for the rest of this year, not even hazarding a guess at when we will see new iPad, iPhone, or Mac models. Nor will I proclaim the birth, death or revitalisation of high-end hardware, servers, or whether the Watch will be seen on millions of wrists. If I hedge, you will be no better informed; if I hazard a wild guess, you will curse my inaccuracy.

Instead, I will tell you what I wish will happen.

I dearly hope for an end to dumbing down and playing to the gallery, thus for a return to grace for the geek. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want a command-line interface to iOS 9, nor to make Klingon the default Mac language.

I would just like to restore what used to be a fair balance between support for power users and professionals, and the rather humbler aspirations of the millions who have been helping Apple grow in such startling fashion.

The most glaring example was, of course, Final Cut Studio: in its previous incarnations a wealth of tools for professional film-makers, DVD authors, and more. Whilst it was clearly unjust to damn Final Cut Studio X completely, as it has strengths for the many looking for something better than iMovie, what we still desperately need is Final Cut Studio Pro.

You could criticise OS X Server on very similar grounds, although for smaller networks the new lightweight Server App should have been a bargain and a boon. But those trying to convince controllers of very large networks, in corporates or education, must have abandoned hope that Apple has any interest in the corporate, as opposed to consumer, market.

Apple is not alone in this. I know several former Formula 1 geeks, who can still wax lyrical over the Honda engines that powered Ayrton Senna’s victories in the early 1990s, but have grown cold of interminable coverage of what Jenson Button had for breakfast, and where each driver’s partner has her outfits designed.

Even Stephen Fry’s outstanding documentary series Planet Word, which grappled with great linguistic concepts and research in its first couple of episodes, slid inexorably into Desert Island Authors before it ended all too quickly.

I have nothing against my fellow travellers on the Clapham omnibus who are glued to their copies of Glamour or OK! Magazine. I even get a warm fuzzy feeling when I catch them reading similar content on their iPads.

But let us – and Apple – not forget the typographic, music, movie, design, photographic, Xcode, and many other geeks that make it all possible, and will make the next great revenue-generating products possible. This year, let’s cultivate the geek in us.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 28 issue 01, 2012. We are still waiting for the Year of the Geek, even now in the Year of the Sheep/Goat.