Logic Contortions in Support of the iPad

1. Calling people Luddites who resist the latest inventions of Steve Jobs--the man who got rich dumbing down the computer for...Luddites. (see Nicholas Carr)

2. Saying that although the iPad is the future of computing, it's for the unwashed masses, not the digerati (see comment to the "Luddite" post) This is as patronizing as it is nonsensical.

Do you want to do all your typing on smeary glass? Do you need external storage or email? Do you want all your docs “auto-saved” every 30 seconds with no "Save" command? Do you need a loading dock at the bottom of your screen with little dancing animations that activate every time you open or close a file? (don't know if the iPad does this but it's one of the dumber elements of Mac computers.) Do you want to buy music from one source? Do you need a digital book reader that also plays movies and polishes your shoes? Well, if you don't, you must be a Luddite.

Unpublished, related comment to a Mac fan on another website:

apple_lover, I know how highly my opinion counts around here [sarcasm]--just think of me as a typical consumer who follows things and can spread bad memes through simple peasant miscomprehension, thus endangering the Grand Apple Project.

It really bugs me the way geekier Apple users say "oh well the target market won't care about things we true heads hate." It's not like you are leaders or anything. Not just you--I've read this a dozen times. "Yeah it sucks but we need to get the little people hooked to make this work and then things will be super awesome!"

I may be technically illiterate but I know a defensive justification of something bad when I read one.

Things the true heads hate: change in the developer's tools terms of service so certain developers (Flash, Monotouch) can't cross compile to the iPhone; file-sharing issues "not worked out yet" (hat tip Server Side for the info if not the rhetoric)

Update: Atrios wonders why this topic makes people mad. Calling a closed system open and its critics Luddites--let's start with that.

Update 2: Comment I made at Paddy Johnson's:

Macs appealed in the '80s when they were still simple and you could move programs back and forth on floppies. Since then the aesthetics have changed–-it’s all about elegance and lifestyle. Not elegance in the sense of “the fewest number of steps to get the job done” but self-conscious elegance, like the slick interface with drop shadows and thumbnails that twist and morph when you browse them. This is adding data to create fascination, treating consumers like babies who need dangling, shiny crib toys to keep from fussing. Resisting Apple aesthetics and the consumer anxiety of constant new product roll-outs isn’t Luddism but old-fashioned pragmatism (with a hint of the stoic). As for Carr’s “technological development doesn’t necessarily give us the change we want,” a 19th Century railroad monopolist couldn’t have put it better.

Update 3: In her post Johnson talked about Brian Eno and the artist's response to "black box" technology. I added:

Re: the Eno discussion in your post. That’s good to bring up. I’ve been talking the past few years with artists and musicians who are interested in older programs and hardware. Some want to “hack” the gear; others are just interested in the way it sounds and looks. Some of these people have Mac laptops but use them to surf the web, send emails, ordinary stuff. There is very little talk about “the future of computing” or participating in some grand Apple experiment that revolutionizes thought, mostly because we know how past claims for gear and software played out. The 8-Bit Construction Set record has a loop of an advertising voice-over saying “master your finances”–-taken from an '80s Atari ad. Did anyone really master their finances with an Atari? I’m looking forward to the day when iPads can be bought cheaply and taken apart to make into sculptures.

Johnson replied on that same thread:

I’m worried for that day. I’ve already seen enough ipod art to last me a lifetime! I’m guessing the artists remixing Steve Job’s iPad pitch on youtube have done a good job but things as good as the 8 Bit Construction Set come along very rarely.

Carr’s post is pretty confused, but has the advantage of sounding like he’s said something more profound than he has. He agrees the iPad is a step back, he’s just of the “there’s nothing I can do about it so too bad for me” variety. I’m not sure what the 19th century equivalent to this would be, but blissfully ignorant peasant sounds about right.

My reply: Orwell called it doublethink. (That's not 19th Century but it should be mentioned.)