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The POCWACTSO FAQ: Infrequent answers to frequently asked questions

31 May 2000

What on earth is a “Plain Old Customer Without Any Connections To Speak Of”?

Before we even begin to chew on that conundrum, we need to clearly establish what a “Plain Old Customer Without Any Connections To Speak Of” (POCWACTSO) isn’t.

All right then, tell me what a POCWACTSO isn’t.

That’s more like it. Many online Mac publications are increasingly catering to stereotypes (“demographics” for all you marketing types) of Mac users. In particular:

Stereotype #1: Joe Six-Pack (aka JSP)

JSP is your well-meaning but perhaps easily-misled computer novice. He simply wants to use his computer and not look foolish attempting to do so. Apple gladly empties his wallet to assist him in this noble goal. One salesman’s delight however, is another tech support guy’s terror.

For Mac news, JSP is well-catered – by most Mac sites that begin with “i”, for example. An article entitled, say “Which iMac is right for you?” may totally engross JSP. That’s fine. If there were only one category of reader, the web would be a damned boring place. There’s a little bit of JSP in everyone, so “live and let live”, as they say.

Stereotype #2: The Drooling Apple Fanboy

These are a far more dangerous breed than the earnest, but potentially misguided, JSP. A little knowledge is dangerous – and sadly, there are far too many of these types. The Apple Fanboy is someone who is just a little too enthusiastic about all things Apple. While a comprehensive rant on Fanboys is very tempting, it is not appropriate for this FAQ (i.e. the editor said, “No! this is a family oriented publication.”). Someone who thinks that damn Apple hockey-puck mouse is a stylish example of “Thinking Different” is at a high risk of being a Fanboy. If he then wants to share with you his grand theory about Apple reasserting its market dominance by “relicensing the clones”, run – just run, and don’t look back. Trust me.

Fanboys like to read publications a little bit more sophisticated than JSP. However, they are attracted to journalism that reiterates how wonderful Apple is. Apple always gets it right the first time; the company never makes mistakes – you got that?

Again, I should point out that this stereotype is a relative concept. While POCWACTSOs are not Fanboys, they may relapse into Fanboy-like behavior under certain circumstances – when Steve’s RDF is set to higher than “stun”, for example.

This is what POCWACTSOs aren’t. Clear as mud? Good. We are not saying there is anything wrong with targeting these demographics (all right, except the Fanboys) – we are simply saying that MacEdition and the POCWACTSO Files will seek not to do this.

Now that you’ve clarified what he or she isn’t, can you please tell me what a POCWACTSO is?

With pleasure! POCWACTSOs are the diverse group of prosumers/professionals who use their Mac for a living. They are most likely feeling a little alienated by Apple at the moment. Apple has, in its quest to become a “Really Cool Consumer Company”, forgotten the people responsible for its continued profits. And no, I’m not talking about Grandma making iMovies.

POCWACTSOs are reliant on the strategic directions Apple takes, as for many this directly affects their livelihood. By definition, these strategic directions are beyond their control (hence no “connections to speak of”!). The present moment is a time of great uncertainty, and one that is not eased by vague reassurances about upcoming “lickable” operating systems.

POCWACTSOs are the people sick of buying shoddy equipment that doesn’t live up to its glowing reviews. They know the frustration of dealing with a Mac sales droid that knows less about the product than they do. These are people who may, for argument’s sake, feel that the user interface group for Aqua should consist of more than ex-NeXT employees.

One important point to stress is that POCWACTSOs are usually not professional journalists or industry pundits. Few of us could ever pen such mighty prose as our very own resident rumorologist, The Gay Blade, nor do many mortals possess his unique ability to attract tips, rumors, and eager pharmaceutical reps. POCWACTSOs contribute to this column, not for their literary prowess, but because they have something important to say.

So what’s the point of this column, then?

What makes a better review – one done by a magazine staff member with a working knowledge of a product and given a weekend to produce a review, or one contributed by a guest writer who’s used the product extensively for years? What makes a better opinion piece – one written by an outside observer or one contributed by somebody in the trenches? It depends – it’s all about getting the right balance of legibility and know-how.

This column is intended as a medium for a wide range of individuals, who will contribute articles on an area where they have particular competence/expertise (or failing that, a very strong opinion!). We hope to produce a diverse and sometimes controversial range of articles that are firstly, frank and honest, and secondly, Kool-Aid®-free*.

(*Kool-Aid® – the Apple fanboy’s drink of choice.)

Why do some of your guest columnists write under a pseudonym or alias?

Actually, everyone’s a guest columnist for the POCWACTSO Files. For some, expressing their opinion under their real name may be problematic (they like their jobs and all ten of their fingers, for example). That’s not to say they won’t be held accountable for their opinions, however.

Can I be a POCWACTSO?

Are you bursting to tell the world about your favorite product or biggest gripe – something that hasn’t been covered elsewhere? Are your comments legible, lucid, and slightly more in-depth than “It’s really cool!”? Do you abstain from excessive Kool-Aid®? If so, please read our submission guidelines and then contact us at pocwactso@macedition.com.

Do you guys have some sort of obsession with acronyms or something?

Well, yes! Would you like a JSP with your POCWACTSO to help tone down the ASF due to TSO’s RDF?


Welcome to the column. Watch this space regularly and hang onto your hat – we’ll be back shortly with actual content (yes, POCWACTSOs are also notorious for breaking deadlines).

Kool-Aid® is a registered tradmark of Kraft Foods Ltd. All other registered tradmarks are property of their respective owners.

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