Cognitive Daily

A few weeks ago, Greta got a new iPod. I was, naturally, interested to see how it worked since it was supposed to be the latest technology, but Greta would hardly let me touch it: “It’s mine, and I want to learn how to use it before you do,” she told me.

This was surprising to me, since I generally let people try out my new toys right away — I’d even say it’s part of my own enjoyment of them. It got me to thinking whether there was some pattern to who lets others use their gadgets and who doesn’t.

So of course, we did something about it. Two weeks ago, we posted a quick survey that we hoped would get to the heart of the matter. The key question in the survey was this one: “When you have a brand-new product (cell phone, iPod, etc.), how willing are you to let others use it?” There were a dozen or so other questions, like “how interested are you in new technology,” and even a couple designed to see how organized or disorganized people are, asking how many items people had on their real and virtual desktops. Almost as an afterthought I threw in one more: “Mac or PC?” This turned out to be the one that really mattered — check out this graph:


There’s a dramatic and statistically significant difference between how much PC and Mac users let friends try out their new devices.

The “how willing are you to let others use your technology” question had 6 possible answers:

  • They must not touch (0)
  • They can hold it, but not press any buttons (0.01)
  • They can try it out for a few minutes while I supervise (0.1)
  • They can try it out for up to an hour, unsupervised (1)
  • They can borrow it for a couple days (5)
  • They can have it — I didn’t really want it anyway (100)

The numbers after each answer didn’t appear in the survey; they are how I coded the responses — I was simply trying to convert each response into a number of hours. When these figures are averaged together, you get the above results.

I tried correlating some of the other responses to the technology-sharing question, and none of them explained the results nearly as well as the Mac/PC question. Because of our very large sample size (892), we did find some significant correlations, but they’re really tiny in absolute terms.

For example, people who say they’re “interested” in new technology are less likely to let others try out their gadgets, but with a correlation of only .07. People who say they control the TV remote are also touchy about their new gadgets, again with a correlation of just .10. There’s a somewhat stronger correlation between people who take charge of the remote and those who leave the TV on when they’re not watching — .17.

To me, it’s more striking how many things don’t correlate with sharing your technology. A willingness to share clothing, a car, or tools doesn’t correlate with sharing technology. A neat physical or computer desktop doesn’t correlate. Whether or not you buy cases for your gadgets doesn’t and neither does a tendency to contact friends via IM, Phone, or face-to-face (though there is a significant correlation of .09 between texting and stinginess with technology).

In this context, the fact that Mac users (and “other” — mostly Linux users) are so dramatically more stingy with their new gadgets is truly a striking finding, even acknowledging the fact that our readers may not be representative of the public at large. This is literally the opposite of what you’d expect by watching Apple’s own advertising, where “Mac” is the type of guy you’d invite over for a beer and “PC” is the type of guy who’d turn down your invitation in order to organize his DVD collection.

I do have a guess at why Mac users might be stingier with their gizmos. It’s because Mac users have invested more in their technology. Not only are Macs considered “luxury” computers, but Mac users have to deal with the fact that their computers aren’t always 100 percent compatible with the rest of the world. If they’re willing to sacrifice this much for their computers, it’s a safe bet that they’re also more protective of their technology. It’s almost the same reason a BMW owner is less likely to let you borrow her car than a Ford owner. The same reasoning can be adapted to Linux users — while Linux computers aren’t more expensive than PCs, there’s little argument that they have a steeper learning curve than Windows PCs, and also have compatibility problems. Just as a person who’s lovingly restored a 1969 Camaro might not let you drive it, so a Linux user might not let you give his new Ogg Vorbis player a test run.

Any other explanations for our data? Let us know in the comments.


  1. #1 lylebot
    May 30, 2008

    I have to say, I’m very surprised about the Linux users. Your hypothesis for Mac users makes some sense to me, but the one for Linux users much less so. Linux can run on really cheap, low-end machines; I’m generally not too willing to share technology, but I would let people use some of my old Linux boxes for as long as they wanted with no hesitation. And the steep learning curve just means that there’s less chance they can wreck it, right? If they don’t know what they’re doing, it’d be hard to do any real damage (without root access); if they do, they probably wouldn’t want to. And what about those people that try to install Linux on everything (iPod, iPhone, toaster, etc) and show it to everybody?

    Anyway—pretty interesting!

  2. #2 g
    May 30, 2008

    It feels very weird to be representing those answers as an average (which I guess is what’s in your graph). A small increase in the number of people saying “I didn’t want it anyway” would overwhelm large increases in the number giving responses like “Mustn’t touch it at all”, for instance. If that’s what’s going on then the story might be “Mac users are happier with their gizmos” or “PC users are more inclined to self-deprecating humour about their choice of gizmos”.

    Could you provide the actual breakdown of results on that question for each group of people?

  3. #3 sng
    May 30, 2008


    Geeks don’t like people touching their gear. I liken other people touching my gear to them using my toothbrush to explain it to folks. The real explanation is that it just makes us nervous and it’s ours and keep your paws off of it. It’s an emotional and not really rational thing.

  4. #4 Dave Munger
    May 30, 2008


    I took another look at the data, and you’re right in that PC users chose the “I didn’t want it anyway” option more. Removing those data points mitigates the Mac effect but doesn’t eliminate it. I don’t have time to make another graph right now but I might get to it in the morning.

  5. #5 Sandra Porter
    May 30, 2008

    Can you break this out by sex?

    Some women might tired of their husbands (lovers, partners, friends, whatever) grabbing gadgets out of their hands.

  6. #6 Dave Munger
    May 30, 2008

    Sorry, Sandra, we didn’t collect gender data this time. One of the pitfalls of keeping the survey brief. However, one possible proxy for gender, “who’s in charge of the TV remote?” didn’t seem to have an effect.

  7. #7 travc
    May 30, 2008

    Well, for linux users there is the distinct possibility that someone ‘playing’ with it can seriously screw it up… or at least munge carefully setup preferences. I personally get very nervous with people using my account to do anything except maybe a quick web search (though I’m quite willing to make them an account of their own… without root privileges).

    Maybe a different way to look at it. Windoze (PC) users may be more willing to let someone else muck around with their machine… hell, I get sick of trying to fix it constantly and let other people have a go. Can’t make it much worse.

  8. #8 hanna jörgel
    May 30, 2008

    I can only speak for myself here, but one reason I want no one touching my iPod is because of the personal nature of its contents. Same with the computer.

    I have all that guilty pleasure music on the iPod because it makes me really, really happy. It’s like that car commercial with the voice-activated controls where the passenger says “Play Tiffany” and the driver shrinks in shame.

    It’s like letting someone read my diary, wash my undies and go through that shoebox full of really personal mementos hidden in the back of the closet.

    And if they rewind the 2 hour podcast I’m 45 minutes of the way through, I will never speak to them again!

  9. #9 Eve
    May 30, 2008

    Does this have something to do with cost? If you’re a Mac user, you might be buying more pumped-up electronics compared to if you were to buy something that doesn’t necessarily have to fit with a Mac (iPod vs. Zune, etc). You might also have a preference for higher-end gadgets.

    Either that, or we’re jerks 🙂

  10. #10 chezjake
    May 30, 2008

    As a Mac user since 1984, I have a few thoughts. Early Macs had some compatibility problems, which Apple was far quicker to address than Microsoft for PC users. (And Macs have always been compatible with MS Office, since Word, Excel, and PowerPoint were all originally designed for Mac and later ported to Windows when it was capable of handling them.) Nowadays, Macs are more compatible with internet/web standard software than Windows machines are.

    On the point of sharing, Mac users are more reluctant because the majority of those they might share with are Windows users, who have a perpetual perceived need to tinker with system settings, even if there’s nothing wrong. I’m happy to share with other Mac users, but not with PC users.

  11. #11 Alvin
    May 30, 2008

    Any other explanations for our data?

    Apple products are shiny, scratch easily, and attract more fingerprints than an entire forensic team could ever dream of. If there’s anyone who’ll be smudging up my sparkly new $500 MP3 player, it’s going to be me.

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    May 31, 2008

    Well, the only gadgets I have that other people want to play with are Apple gadgets. And when a new Apple gadget comes out, everyone wants to play with it. If I let all those people play with my gadget for a few days, I’d never get to play with it myself. Once the shiny wears off and I’m ready to share, more people have their own, so no one is looking to handle mine.

  13. #13 Sameer
    May 31, 2008

    I think the Mac effect would be further mitigated by analyzing the percentage of annual income spent on gadgets and electronics (this data was probably not collected in the survey). I’m guessing that “PC users” represent the general population, while “Mac and Linux users” tend to represent geeks, who spend much more on technology than the average family (for whom, buying a $399 Walmart PC or an iPod might be their most significant electronics purchase). Naturally, for such PC users, trusting others with (moderately expensive) technology might be easier to get accustomed to, than for geeks who save up a bigger fraction of their income to spend on gadgetry.

  14. #14 Brian Little
    May 31, 2008

    Dave, I have to say that I must be some kind of outlier data point here, because I have no problem letting people play with my gadgets. After, as in Greta’s case, I’ve learned it myself, but that’s not an issue of being stingy. It’s an issue of being an early adopter, and not wanting to be caught not knowing, or at least having and idea of, the answer to the inevitable questions. Maybe that’s just a function of my job.

    I could make a smart-aleck response by suggesting that PC gadgets aren’t as interesting, so the owner pays no penalty by letting go of them for a couple of hours. But that would be uncharitable. :::coughzunecough::: 🙂

    Seriously, though, I suspect Sameer has a good point, and tend to agree with him.

  15. #15 AdamC
    May 31, 2008

    A very strange survey with very strange results. I wonder how did Apple sell so much of their stuffs lately.

  16. #16 dkmarsh
    May 31, 2008

    I took another look at the data, and you’re right in that PC users chose the “I didn’t want it anyway” option more. Removing those data points mitigates the Mac effect but doesn’t eliminate it.

    Well, since each removal of a data point with a value of 100 is equivalent to the removal of one thousand data points with a value of .1 (“They can try it out for a few minutes while I supervise”)–and your sample totaled fewer than a thousand respondents–it’s hard to see how removing the “I didn’t really want it anyway” responses leaves a result that has any meaning whatsoever.

    Apparently, “Casual Fridays” refers to the level of intellectual rigor of a Friday post.

    (I mean, c’mon! Suppose all respondents said “They can hold it, but not press any buttons”–except for a single “I didn’t really want it anyway.”

    The total of 108.91 ((891 x .01) + (1 x 100)), divided by 892, would give an average result of about .12, meaning your methodology would declare the average response to be “They can try it out for a few minutes while I supervise.”)

  17. #17 Chris
    May 31, 2008

    as a linux user, i’d have to say its much less that i don’t want other people using my stuff, its just i’m always using it. when otherwise occupied, i have no problem letting others use my equipment for any purpose. then of course, there’s the point that the previous poster made about other people tinkering with a careful selection of system settings. multiple accounts are there for a reason.

  18. #18 Anonymous Coward
    May 31, 2008

    The Unofficial Apple Weblog is trying your poll with just Mac users, and most are opting for “They can try it out for a few minutes while I supervise” …

  19. #19
    May 31, 2008

    the pc user has a dvd collection? by the impression presented, he would still be at VHS, if he watches movies at all…

  20. #20 Steve
    May 31, 2008

    I use all three operating systems. I’m also a gadget addict. It’s not that I don’t want to let other people play with it, it’s just that I want to play with it more. I buy a new gadget, secrete myself somewhere (I’m not telling you where or you’ll come and use my gadgets) and ignore the world. Letting other people play with it takes away from the time I can play with it. Letting them take it away for a couple of days is out of the question.

    And that shiny new gadget feeling isn’t something you can replace. You know that you enjoy it now, but in a couple of weeks there’ll be something better out there. You have to milk your new gadgets for everything they’re worth.

  21. #21 Jacques
    May 31, 2008

    the pc user has a dvd collection? by the impression presented, he would still be at VHS, if he watches movies at all…

    You know, you’re right. By “the impression presented,” he’d most likely be working on spreadsheets.

    See what I did there? Neither of our points have anything to do with sharing gadgets. Let’s not turn this post into sophomoric name-calling with 10 pages of PC/Mac users sniping at each other. Please.

  22. #22 John
    May 31, 2008

    I’d be reluctant to let someone have access to my Mac because that is my whole life there. It has my financial information, my work projects, personal photos, and all sorts of other personal information. It would be easy to delete or damage valuable material.

    I wouldn’t mind creating a separate account that didn’t have access to my data and letting a friend use that.

    I also have a Dell laptop that my company gave me to use. I have no personal or valuable information on that machine. I wouldn’t mind a friend using that.

  23. #23 Partners in Grime
    May 31, 2008

    I only let women play with my iPod … especially redheads. 🙂

  24. #24 John C
    May 31, 2008

    I found this out when I tried to show my brother on his mac book that it had a terminal app. I fired up the terminal and looked around at the files and directories. He was not amused and got quite upset. He wanted me to stop before I broke it, and promptly reclaimed the laptop. I told him to relax as I was only listing files. I have a Linux/Unix background but he is more into the arts (film). I tell you, it really freaked him out!

  25. #25 Rick
    June 1, 2008

    For most Mac and Linux users, their technology has a different place in their lives. They use it all the time, carry it around with them, it contains and gives access to much of their personal lives. They are very personal items.

    In fact, what this survey is basically saying is “people who don’t care about their technology, aren’t protective about their technology, people who do are”. Duh….

    And one other thing, being both a Mac and Linux user, i’ve found that the first thing PC-users will do with a Mac or Linux box is try to break it. Seriously, nine out of ten will immediately try to find ways to make it “not work”. Not out of malice, but to convince themselves they are right not trying to learn anything that’s different from their familiar PC-stuff.

  26. #26 maze2000
    June 1, 2008

    I really agree with chezjake and Alvin: Apple products are expensive, glossy and attract fingerprints. PC users tend to handle them like their cheap profane gray boxes. I don’t have any problems whatsoever with other mac users using my Apple gadgets, they simply know how to handle them.

  27. #27 Cassie Jones
    June 1, 2008

    Another explanation for Mac users not wanting to share is that we (I own a Mac) invested more time in researching the technology behind our computers. Most Mac users know more about their computers than PC users. However, I am not sure that your data is completely legitimate, considering you are trying to generalize your results to an entire population based on only 892 participants.

  28. #28 gregory
    June 1, 2008

    buying an identity … lol

  29. #29 Elfine Peterson
    June 1, 2008

    I’ll second whoever says that gadget is personal thing. I, especially, don’t like people touching my computers, whether it’s linux or pc, and my IPod. On top of that, some people eat chips and type away on your keyboard. So other than they read your diary, they also destroy the sanctity of it. And coming from security background, I’m also naturally paranoid of what people might do, intentionally or unintentionally, to your gadget.

    Btw, I have some mac friends who would leave their macbook (and the charger) in my room for the weekend after a long friday hacking session.

  30. #30 Gregory Bloom
    June 1, 2008

    Apple produces fashion electronics – they always have. People who go for Apple products are therefore fashion-conscious types. Fashion is a narcissistic behavior. Is it surprising that people who exhibit narcissistic behavior would be less willing to share?

  31. #31 josey
    June 1, 2008

    I think one reason why mac users don’t like it is that we LOVE our macs and ipods. I never loved a pc I owned! I also agree with the comments about the data on the gadgets being very personal.

  32. #32 Doug
    June 2, 2008

    @ Gregory:

    While it is true that many of Apple’s products fit into the category of fashion electronics, they are not all accurately categorized that way. My Mac Pro has absolutely nothing to do with fashion, and everything to do with brute force. I bought it to be more productive, not more popular. They also produce many best-of-breed applications, several of which I use. Not exactly fashion accessories, though they can be used to promote fashion if that’s your thing…

    My iPhone is in fact the most useful device I’ve ever purchased. No, it doesn’t do everything. But what it does do, it does very easily and very well, and it suits my needs perfectly. True, it is fashionable, but I didn’t buy it because it’s cute, and not because I think you’ll like me for having one. It’s about being productive with my time. Windows can’t offer me that, and neither can Linux. To be fair, I only spend about 10 hours/week on XP, and the rest on OS X, but I often walk away from the Windows box shaking my head.

    All of my Mac-using family and friends are similarly minded. All of them. And stop touching my stuff. ;o)

  33. #33 Alvin
    June 2, 2008

    The results show that it’s gadgets in general, not necessarily PC/Microsoft- or Mac-related gadgets, that differ in sharing amongst the separate computer camps. Perhaps one group of users are more likely to purchase more fragile or expensive gadgets, but that would be generalizing to an extreme level.

    On a related note, I’m a PC user who does freelance video projects, as well as a tiny bit of home-studio recording. Thus, gadgets like cameras and studio microphones are things that I’d never let others play with, and this has nothing to do with what OS I’m using.

    Of course, a lot of video and audio production happens on Macs, so maybe there is some relation… though it’s not likely the majority of our respondents fit within that criteria.

  34. #34 lisa
    June 2, 2008

    There could be a geographical explanation also. PC stuff is just easier to buy if something breaks. I have to drive 200 miles or wait for delivery if something breaks on my Mac. PC stuff can be had within 10 miles. So if someone breaks my toys, I can’t play for days.

  35. #35 Sharon
    June 2, 2008

    What about books? If I buy a new book, I won’t let my partner read it before I do. It’s MINE and I don’t want him reading it and knowing what’s in there before I do.

    Same goes for gadgets. It’s MY MP3 player. He eventually ended up knowing more about how my video player works than I do, and that is extremely annoying.

  36. #36 Yvonne Adams
    June 2, 2008

    I suspect many of the Mac users had this trait before they became Mac users.

    Even when I had a Windows machine, I’d recoil any time someone else used my computer. They’d often resize browser windows to full screen (ugh), change browser settings etc. or otherwise muck things up.

    Those of us who are “particular” (okay, anal) about our technology may be more likely to gravitate to Mac or Linux in the first place. We want our technology our way.

  37. #37 NMTucson
    June 2, 2008

    Many of the Apple users I know gravitated towards that technology because somebody convinced them they could use it “without having to know how it works.” I have provided tech support for the whole range of user types on both sides of the “aisle”, and the Mac users I have experience with more often exhibit a dislike of or disinterest in underlying technology, with a related disdain for (and deficit of) technical handiness. The PC user usually really appreciates my assistance and advice, and even aspires to a certain amount of understanding about what I’ve done to fix the problem. The MAC user treats my visits like most people treat visits to the car mechanic or the dentist–with a deep suspicion about anyone who has a handle on the “black arts”. They would prefer a computer that works like the refrigerator–one that does only what it they want it to do and never needs service. And before you smile wisely to yourself and say “like a MAC?” remember, I am there, in their home or office, FIXING THEIR MAC.

    I suspect that this distrust/disinterest in technology colors their thinking on new gadgets–they don’t want you to touch it because a) you might figure it out much faster than they can; or b) you might tell them something truly technical about how it works when they really REALLY don’t want to know. People like this prefer to remain mystified by their gadgets and thus feel lucky to get it to do the few things they ask of it.

  38. #38 Aaron
    June 2, 2008

    I think you missed the biggest reason for the different in responses between Mac user and PC users. Your question presumes an equal experience with the “Oooo, can I see that” response. But have you ever seen anyone excited to check out a Zune? If I were to hypothesize a reason for the disparity in the responses, I’d look more to the experience of others wanting to play with the subject’s new gadget.

    For the Mac and Linux users, the cool factor is much higher. Everyone wants to play with the new iPod Touch or Linux version of the Asus Eee. Owners of such devices have experience with what happens when they start letting others mess with their gadgets. First, settings get changed – sometimes inadvertently. Second, once the passing around starts, the owner doesn’t get to play with the gadget! PC owners, on the other hand, find it easy to say, “Sure, I’d let people check out my new gadget” – because they’ve so rarely had the experience of others WANTING to play with their gadgets, that they don’t see the downside.

  39. #39 kapowaz
    June 2, 2008

    The reason for Linux users having an aversion to letting go of their toys is surely obvious; whilst the Windows users are apathetic (‘the thing never worked properly anyway’) and the Mac users are chic fetishists, Linux users represent the epitome of social dysfunction and OCD, so can’t bear to let the thing out of their site just in case either a.) it requires a kernel update mid-play, or b.) you misconfigure it accidentally through one of the myriad buttons hidden on the underside, requiring them to spend the next five hours grinding their teeth and sidestepping the trolling remarks of other Linux users on IRC whilst attempting to diagnose and fix the problem…

  40. #40 Ron Ronmore
    June 2, 2008

    It’s because Mac people tend to love and anthropomorphize their gear. I wouldn’t let someone play with my pet or child, unsupervised, for hours at a time either.

  41. #41 Rip Ragged
    June 2, 2008

    There’s a novel concept. A mention of Macs and PCs without a flame war. Interesting data. I’d have to say I’m about an average Apple guy. Using Macs since 1987; commenting from my iPhone. I would have replied, “Get your own. This one’s mine.”

  42. #42 Rich
    June 2, 2008

    I immediately assumed that Windows users tended to view their technology as trash that they were willing to let anyone use. Perhaps the more interesting thing is in the reaction to your “results” in the comments here (sample of 900 is pretty thin for all that is being inferred, no?) as opposed to the results themselves.

  43. #43 MacCentric
    June 2, 2008

    I too believe that the “they can have it” option really skews the survey. I know plenty of people with PCs or non-apple cell phones who will readily express their desire to “throw it out a window.” I don’t personally know any Apple users who feel the same way about their technology. I personally don’t have any problem with sharing a computer (I would create a separate account for the person without admin access) or iPod for awhile with someone. However, something like an iPhone is totally different, while I would let them play with it all they want under direct supervision, I would not let them use it unsupervised. The reason is because it does not have a ‘guest’ account and unlocking it for them gives them access to all my e-mail (which includes e-mail from my financial institutions), months worth of text messages, and other personal information.

  44. #44 David Leppik
    June 2, 2008

    I agree with other commenters that the scaling system can really bias things. This is really a Likert-scale (ranked) question, where people tend to ignore the wording and just respond to the relative position of the answers. In this case, a single “they can have it” can dominate the dataset. (Assuming you’re analyzing with averages and Pearson correlations.) This is especially troubling since “they can have it” strikes me as a bogus option– why would you obtain gadgets if you never want them?

    Given the poor wording of the question, you may have some people who answer it as a Likert scale and some who give you an honest assessment. I’d wager good money that nearly all respondents gave equal weight to each response. To be conservative, you could analyze the data with integer ranks from 1=”they must not touch” to 6=”they can have it” and throw out any correlations which don’t match both your ranking and the Likert ranking.

    All this assumes, of course, that you have honest responses and an unbiased sample. When you invite everyone on the Internet to take your survey, you’re really opening up a can of worms.

    Note: my day job involves writing software that does survey data analysis.

  45. #45 jean-paul
    June 2, 2008

    Nah, that’s nothing! Me, you put your finger on my Mac screen, I KILL YOU!

  46. #46 Brian
    June 3, 2008

    I think the last paragraph of the article is close with the BMW vs Ford analogy, but for a slightly different reason. Not unlike some BMW owners, when you buy a mac you’re not just buying the hardware or software. You’re stepping into an “elite” group. Mac pushes that ideal. It sells. You’re now different than the masses, and you can wear it on your lapel. You can introduce yourself at parties as “Bob, a mac owner!” I think I’d be hard-pressed to find a single PC owner with a similar outlook. PC owners would be more likely to view their computer as a very commonly owned tool. Some mac owners I know almost identify themselves by their mac purchase. If they let someone else use their mac, they’re lessening their elite status.

  47. #47 Scott
    June 3, 2008

    Maybe PC users are more willing to have others touch their machines in the hopes that “others” will be able to make it work properly.

  48. #48 Dan
    June 3, 2008

    I agree with MacCentric on every point he said. It’s not so much a “ooh, shiny!” type of thing as it is a privacy thing – computers are personal, as hanna jörgel described.

    I have 5 Macs I use somewhat regularly – a MacBook Pro, Powerbook, Sawtooth G4, and two G3 iMacs. I won’t let anyone use my MacBook Pro – barring maybe a quick trip to google or Youtube – but don’t really have a problem with them messing with my iMacs or even G4. The thing is, my MacBook Pro (and Powerbook before it) is quite personal – I use it constantly, and it has all my photos, music, movies, school work, and the like. I don’t want people browsing through it. The iMacs? Well, they’re there mostly for running OS 9 apps – like Starcraft – and I don’t mind people fidgeting with them. Of course, I still want them to tell me what they’re doing – OS 9 is way less forgiving if they should change settings somewhere…

    I also agree that there’s a connection to the computer iself with Mac users – those iMacs are from 1999/2000 – and I still won’t get rid of them. I still have a 1994-95 Powerbook, in fact. My sister? She just got a relatively fast desktop, vs a very slow laptop – and the laptop has already been sold.

    I have also felt the same thing with my gadgets – particularly my iPods. There are plenty of “guilty pleasure” songs on my iPod, and I don’t want people browsing them. It’s a different story with people using my digital point-and-shoot camera, bare-bones cell phone, or video game systems. As long as they don’t run off with it – and don’t save over my games – I don’t have a problem with it.

    I’m not sure the Mac vs PC vs Linux debate really has much to do with this. I do think that Mac users tend to be more possessive of their computers – probably for the same reason I am – but many of the PC users I know are the same way.

    On a side note, I’ve had Mac vs PC vs Linux debates before with my friends, actually, and have found a couple of things:

    1. Mac users tend to like the UI, Apps, and compatibility – and the ‘it just works’ thing. They like to fidget with settings, but don’t want to have to spend hours troubleshooting or customizing settings rather than actually using the computer. They also tend to be very attached to their computers/Apple. My friends tend to tinker quite deeply into the UNIX core of OS X, as well.
    2. PC users like the wide variety of software and games on the PC, as well as the ease in which you can shop around for hardware and even build a PC yourself – it’s not a closed system.
    3. Linux users like to be able to control just about everything about their computers – and don’t mind lots of tinkering or a large learning curve. My Linux friends are all electrical engineers and/or scientists – for that matter.

    Of course, this is an informal survey of people I know – which is not a representative sample of the general public – my friends and family tend to be artsy and very tech-savvy.

  49. #49 terry
    June 3, 2008

    steve wrote that he likes to take a new gadget and “… secrete myself somewhere…”


  50. #50 Luna_the_cat
    June 5, 2008

    I have four computers which are unambiguously mine — one at work and 3 at home — which break down to 2 WinXP, one Linux (Mandrake 10.0, which is a Red Hat kernel), and one dual-boot. I loathe iPods as the cheap trash that they are, and proudly sport a Cowon iAudio, which is the MP3 player for audiophiles. God I love that thing.

    And my rule of thumb is, anyone else who touches my technology gets their thumbs broken. Or quite possibly removed. Entirely.

    But much of this stems from what Sandra Porter in #5 said — I grew up in a house full of older brothers, who could clearly see both that they had more need for technology than I did, and that they somehow had more rights to it and could run it better than I could; and then, in the early days of our marriage, my husband seemed to take the attitude that if I were holding something, or fiddling with it, it was his place as the “man of the house” to literally take it out of my hands and make it work himself. This, I am happy to say, no longer happens, but my “rule of thumb” and utter willingness to enforce said rule has something to do with this.

    MY technology is MINE, dammit. I pay for it myself, and in many cases I build it myself, and I have specific tasks in mind that I wish it to do in the way best pleasing to ME. Other people are inveterate meddlers, changing how I have things set up to better suit them. I hate that, quite aside from the sheer tooth-clenched rage induced by early attitudes I encountered that I am a girl and thus not so much entitled to control over the tech.

  51. #51 Brutha
    June 15, 2008

    How do the results change if you would add 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 as numbers for the different answer?
    Maybe mac users just like their iPod better than someone else likes their mp3 player and as a result he doesn’t answers: “I didn’t really want it anyway”?

  52. #52 Rr
    June 24, 2008

    (pet peeve: Macs ARE PCs. They’re even less unique now that they’re running on intel processors too. Stupid idiot mainstream definitions…)

    I don’t let anyone I do not explicitly trust with my whole life (which so far is only one other person in the whole world, though I prefer networking) touch my main PC (which currently a windows machine, soon to be dual boot linux/windows). This is even more so than me not letting anyone else use my underwear. My main machine and some gadgets are an extension of myself.

    Like Luna_the_cat, I too grew up with a too grabby environment. It however was not just limited to toys, even clothing I liked but used “too seldomly” (or often but not “enough” according to their standards) were taken away from me (i.e. stolen) by my parents, and given away to my younger siblings (or if the items were brand new, possibly even to people outside of the family). Any personal information about myself that was leaked to others in my family was also repeatedly used against me, both by my siblings and my parents. (I grew up in a pretty mentally abusive environment.)

    While as I don’t mind certain people using my main machine (on a controlled and limited guest account, of course), or have limited and supervised usage of my favourite gadgets, I wouldn’t let a random stranger play with any of my body-parts, and in the same way I wouldn’t let them play with any of the extensions of myself. I can be just as possessive about my favourite pens/pencils, electronics kit, chemistry kit, and any other of my most beloved tools.

    This’s is pretty much the same as one’s personal sphere/public sphere/etc being incorporated into items.

  53. #53 Beloved
    June 25, 2008

    In my case it’s quite simple. My NEW stuff, are mine. Touch them without expressed permission, and you are not allowed in my vincinity again. When it comes to my other, older, stuff; I don’t really care. But I don’t let them play with it unsupervised. My boyfriends have always found it very offensive that I’d rather have my brother fix my computerproblems that I can’t handle, than let them “have a go”. Surprise eh? This protective streak is unfortunately often translated into “selfishness” by said boyfriends.

  54. #54 travesti
    November 2, 2009

    I n fact, what this survey is basically saying is “people who don’t care about their technology, aren’t protective about their technology, people who do are”. Duh….

    Yeah perf.

  55. #55 dolusextr
    November 14, 2009

    Thank you for link.

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