The following article comes close to my feelings watching the tech world and many of my friends go bonkers over Apple’s announcement of the iPad this week. Will I get one myself – maybe not the first generation, but sure, I can see plenty of uses for a device like this. And I speak as someone who’s been using an iPhone for a few months and am really impressed at how intuitive and easy to use that device is – even to my 4-yr-old. Will it replace my desktop/laptop computers? Probably not. But really, for most of what I use my laptop for on a daily basis – email, reading papers, web browsing, writing, making and presenting lectures, even field data collection – I can easily see an iPad being perfectly adequate for most of this. Personally, I’d like to wait and see how it all plays out rather than pass judgment – but I suspect this article is closer to the mark than much of the ranting I’ve read elsewhere. Oh, and the name iPad doesn’t bother me any more than having to use a notePad bothers me in daily life – so I wonder why folks who might find the idea of a bachelor Pad exciting are upset about this moniker! Its just odd. But read this, especially if you share those misgivings:
I can’t help being struck by the volume and vehemence of apparently technologically sophisticated people inveighing against the iPad.
Some are trying to dismiss these ravings by comparing them to certain comments made after the launch of the iPod in 2001: “No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.” I fear this January-26th thinking misses the point.
What you’re seeing in the industry’s reaction to the iPad is nothing less than future shock.
For years we’ve all held to the belief that computing had to be made simpler for the “average person.” I find it difficult to come to any conclusion other than that we have totally failed in this effort.
Secretly, I suspect, we technologists quite liked the idea that Normals would be dependent on us for our technological shamanism. Those incantations that only we can perform to heal their computers, those oracular proclamations that we make over the future and the blessings we bestow on purchasing choices.
Ask yourself this: in what other walk of life do grown adults depend on other people to help them buy something? Women often turn to men to help them purchase a car but that’s because of the obnoxious misogyny of car dealers, not because ladies worry that the car they buy won’t work on their local roads. (Sorry computer/car analogy. My bad.)
I’m often saddened by the infantilizing effect of high technology on adults. From being in control of their world, they’re thrust back to a childish, medieval world in which gremlins appear to torment them and disappear at will and against which magic, spells, and the local witch doctor are their only refuges.
If the iPad pushes us even a little bit further in this direction – towards making technology more accessible and easier to use for most folks (and eventually cheaper/affordable as well), then what’s not to like? As a friend commented on a Facebook thread, the real promise of technology can only be realized if it can be democratized, and made available to as many people as possible, and if it breaks up the monopoly of elites on information. Seems to me, as the above article suggests, that Apple’s approach to the OS may finally be breaking the monopoly of the OS-congnoscenti elite! And that can’t be all bad.