The Minimal Mac philosophy appeals to me because it always takes into consideration the implicitly heuristic aspects of the practical/technical suggestions it offers. It is not simply a question of assembling the minimal computer hardware (the menubar items, dock and applications…); creative tools— software, hardware, networks —are posited as both representations of and instruments for understanding what is materially/informationally/spiritually necessary to our lives. Our creative workflows, as represented by the machines and networks that underlie them, are both symbols of and materials for affecting that life. This was recently highlighted by Patrick Rhone’s recent thoughts concerning the reduction of the 3rd party apps installed on his Mac to five essential ones:
…limit myself to install no more than five third party apps beyond that. The reason? Well, such constraints allow one to figure out how to get things done with what they have. (EP 85 – 5 Apps and a Dropbox)
While in theory this is close to my ideas about tools for creativity, in practice, I’m thinking that there is a fundamental contradiction. The strength of Apple— the platform —is based on its tightly integrated core of OS products, that are easily augmented by a diverse app ecosystem. This formula permits me to build a project-specific tools from disparate, though standard components, molding this complex chain into a user-specific workflow.
These interstitial apps, though diverse, numerous and fragmented, are also specific and applied and ultimately invisible; how many seems less important than whether (or not) they form a smooth aggregate between an idea and its representation/fabrication/diffusion.
Doesn’t the downsizing of this diverse, but ultimately stable ecosystem, handicap OSX/iOS’s potential?