“When Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh computer in a California auditorium in 1984, the screen displayed a photo of him. At one level, it was merely a way of demonstrating the computer’s graphics capabilities. At another level, it revealed an important dimension of the human-computer dynamic: To see oneself in a creation is the ultimate expression of one’s creative spirit..
Early computer advertisements rarely showed the user. The experience of using a computer was portrayed as a disembodied one, the mind of the user fusing with the computer to accomplish tasks.
In Apple’s 2002 “Window” ad, however, the active presence of a user suggests the integration of the self, the body, and the machine — a rhetorical move signifying computer and user as an integrated unit. The metaphor suggests that computers are not to be viewed as outside threats, but as intimate and integrated extensions of our own human faculties.
In the ad, a man is looking at himself just as much as he is looking at the impish machine. This recalls the Greek Narcissus myth where the young man is transfixed by his own reflection in the pool of water but does not recognize the reflection as himself.
The attraction of technology stems in part from our admiration of ourselves; personal technology points us back to ourselves. The man sees the computer as a separate entity, and yet the computer responds to his every move as if he were looking in a mirror. The computer symbolizes an extension of human thought, communication, and memory.
The Narcissus myth is thus revived in the guise of the gawking consumer.