Thursday 28 January 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

The New York Times front page, as displayed in Apple's iPad sales page

Apple chose the only name that ever made sense for their new change-the-world device: the iPad.

So what's not to like about it? Well, that depends on who you are and what you really wanted this to be. No surprise there.

My biggest problem with it was summed up well by James Kendrick in his post, Thoughts on the iPad — Just Push the Buy Button, says Apple: it really is primarily about media consumption - i.e., paying big corporations for temporary, passive access to data. Something to switch your creative intellect off, not on.

And those of us who are often called the "Apple faithful" were hoping, praying if you will, for something so much more. Which in fact this could still be. But for the first time in Apple history, a product with serious computing power is being positioned in the marketplace such that creative, collaborative expression by individuals is almost a subversive act.

We've fallen a long, long way from "Think Different". And it's now much, much harder to argue that Apple is as much a computer company dedicated to creativity and the pursuit of excellence, than to argue that Apple has become "just another" corporate big-media company, helping to turn the Internet from what was once called "the greatest opportunity for expressive, collaborative democratic action in human history" into just another television set. Active creation becomes passive "consumption." All hail the primacy of content, and don't even think about upsetting the applecart. That would be Thinking (too) Differently.

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