The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a “consumer,” what William Gibson memorably described as “something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It’s covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth… no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote.”
The way you improve your iPad isn’t to figure out how it works and making it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps. Buying an iPad for your kids isn’t a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it’s a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.
These two paragraphs sum up my opinions about the iPad (and Apple in general these days) better than I ever could. I did find it curious that Doctorow left “Or by voting in presidential elections.” off the end of the Gibson quote, but it’s amazingly appropriate despite the omission of what I see as the punchline.
There’s another great reference in the post to the “Maker’s Manifesto,” which states that if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. “Screws not glue.” I used to like Apple, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that over the past 5 years or so they’ve locked down their products well beyond the point of ridiculousness. They want you to buy early and often, and spend spend spend on apps and content. Great business model for people who don’t care or don’t know any better, but definitely not for me.