I’m super-late to the party and am only now watching The West Wing on Netflix. Good stuff.
About the 4th or 5th episode I noticed something: the Apple laptops that the staff were using had their glowing apple logos upside down. I remember those couple of years when they were upside down (1999-2001, in fact), and it was funny to me that for the first two seasons, shot during this time period, the logo was upside down. You can see similar shots from that era in Sex and the City…or so I’m told. o_O
It’s so blatantly a design error, but why did it take two years to correct it? And 1999 was Jobs’ triumphant return to Apple–this was his genius idea?
Apple has an internal system called Can We Talk? where any employee can raise questions on most any subject. So we asked, “Why is the Apple logo upside down on laptops when the lid is open?”
We were told by the Apple design group, which takes human interface issues very seriously, that they had studied the placement of the logo and discovered a problem. If the Apple logo was placed such that it was right side up when the lid was opened then it ended up being upside down when the lid was closed, from the point of view of the user. (If you’re currently using an Apple laptop made in the past eight years, then close the lid and you’ll see that the Apple logo will be upside down from your point of view, but right side up when opened)
Why was upside down from the user’s perspective an issue? Because the design group noticed that users constantly tried to open the laptop from the wrong end. Steve Jobs always focuses on providing the best possible user experience and believed that it was more important to satisfy the user than the onlooker.
Obviously, after a few years, Steve reversed his decision.
It’s an interesting question from a marketing and design standpoint: what is the balance between pleasing the user and marketing the product to potential new users?
Too often, however, I wonder if the Church fails at this balance. If it makes the Apple upside-down in order to please its members instead of turning it right-side up for the sake of those outside its walls.
Aren’t we focusing more on those inside our walls rather than those outside our walls in these situations?
- When we use churchy language in our marketing
- When we tell potential visitors on the phone “look for us in the narthex by the vestibule for someone with a stole on.”
- When a pastor turns away a gay couple to escape congregational wrath
- When new Methodist pastors tell people “I’m not clergy yet, I’m provisional, but I guess I’m a clergy…yes, I’m an unordained clergy, but that’s the same level you are, so…yeah, I’m a commissioned clergy. Yes, just like ordination, but not.”
- When we offer worship styles that please our church members and not branch out to reach new communities
- And so on…
It seems to me that many times in a church’s history, they go back and forth between wanting to satisfy the users and wanting to reach new communities. It’s like every generation has to learn the language of the one that is just behind it, but only when they have to. And even then, it’s easier to focus on those closest in generation to us than those 30-50 years later (which are the growing need, right now).
But to focus on churchy experience is often the wrong path as it turns out, most churchgoers can adapt to change (shock!) after a short amount of time if it is done well.
Back to the Apple logo thing, the reality was, as the Apple employee’s blog post concludes,
Opening a laptop from the wrong end is a self-correcting problem that only lasts for a few seconds. However, viewing the upside logo is a problem that lasts indefinitely.
The simplest error corrects itself after a short amount of time. So it is with churchy focus instead of a missional focus. All that is needed is the will to get it done, the endurance to get through the transition time, and the inspiration to get the congregation to forget there ever was an upside-down apple.
What do you think? Are most of our “presence” problems a conflict between focusing on those in our pews rather than those outside? And at what price?
Discuss. And no, I don’t watch Sex and the City. Really.