Apple vs the iPad Bedwetters
The iPad? It's the end of the world as we know it!
Apple's new iPad has caused an amazing outbreak of Chicken Little-ism. If the iPad is successful, it's curtains for the internet, for freedom and for humanity as we know it. Have you felt a piece of this fall on your head?
Permit me to introduce you to the Professional Bedwetter. It's someone who doesn't like what they see, doesn't understand what people like - but nevertheless, wants to ban it all anyway.
The Puritans once imagined wickedness in every corner, and there's certainly a strong whiff of Puritanism about this latest iPad. I would have thought the Observer veteran John Naughton would have a more sophisticated and Catholic view of sin, but he too has found comfort in a simplified world.
For Naughton, the iPad puts mankind in danger of being led astray by pleasure, and cites Huxley, who "thought that we would be undone by the things we love." You'll recall it's HL Mencken who ably defined the Puritan as someone "haunted by the thought that somebody, somewhere might be enjoying themselves". Apple devices are fun, his argument goes. Well, let's be afraid of them.
Why does he say so? After several hundred words he delivers his justification, and that it's: "a single US company renowned for control-freakery will have become the gatekeeper to the online world." A fair point, - only he doesn't mean Microsoft or Google. He means Apple. And er, that's it. The assertion provides its own justification.
Brewster Kahle has also raised the spectre that the iPad will kill the internet, but he doesn't have much more justification to offer us.
"They really control the horizontal and the vertical by going with the iPhone platform," says Brewster. Cripes - both? Apparently. "I think it's discouraging... the future is controlled, and it's controlled by Apple."
That's some prediction. Wait a second. Apple has just shown off a fancy $500 picture frame. Or $900 if you want 3G. And this apparently crushes all creativity, killing the internet? Please. What are these guys smoking? Who's spiking their latte?
Next page: Threats real and imagined
Good god, it's an electronics product, a bunch of chips with some software running on it. I havnt seen this much mass hysteria since poor old Princess Di copped it.
Cant say I was particularly fussed about this thing, but now I will definitely be picking one up, just for the fuzzy feeling of knowing how much it will fuck off a large number of single, overweight, pale skinned men.
All rather reminiscent of ye olde Usenet days
when the WebTV hordes were seen on the horizon, threatening to bring about The End Of The World with their lack of netiquette and failure to bring stimulating reasoned debate to the table (not that there was any in the first place, but that's a different story). What happened in the end, of course, was that the place became a lot less po-faced and self-regarding before the WebTV hordes eventually left and found their rightful place in Youtube comments, returning Usenet to the desolate, funless wasteland it was before, and everybody unbunched their panties.
What I've come to conclude over the last few days is that the iPad is in no way a substitute for or threat to any of the existing models of computer usage: it's just a different paradigm. It's not FOR people who want to run Office or Photoshop or OS/2: it's for people who want a window on this Interweb thing without feeling that they're becoming "computer people". It's exactly what netbooks were supposed to do, except they looked like familiar laptops, ran familiar software and then people wanted to run Office and Photoshop on them, so the screens got bigger, the processor faster and netbooks suddenly became those very same familiar laptops.
This ain't going to happen to the iPad. Expect its users to crop up in Youtube comments.
Apple are very clever aren't they?
No not in producing the iPad, but it generating all this publicity. There really is no such thing as bad publicity.
Perhaps if we all ignore them (especially the media) they'll just go away. A bit like a hyperactive toddler.