I'll have more to say on the iPad later but one can't help being struck by the volume and vehemence of apparently technologically sophisticated people inveighing against the iPad.
[Many who normally love everything Apple and defend their products at length have a serious problem with this product. These traitors must be dealt with.]
Some are trying to dismiss these ravings by comparing them to certain comments made after the launch of the iPod in 2001: "No wireless. Les space than a Nomad. Lame.". I fear this January-26th thinking misses the point.
[I fear the missed point may not have been made grandly enough.]
What you're seeing in the industry's reaction to the iPad is nothing less than future shock.
[I've borrowed this fantastically melodramatic way of describing people who don't like how things are turning out, because it sounds like a syndrome rather than an opinion.]
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.
[Characterising every other thing in the universe as worthless is probably the only way I'm going to be able to make paying to live in a policed computer gulag seem like a good deal.]
Secretly, I suspect, we technologists quite liked the idea that Normals would be dependent on us for our technological shamanism.
[I'd much rather you doubt my opponents' motives than listen to their arguments.]
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.
[I want you to see iPad doubters as a religion because religions are crap.]
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.)
[Sexism is crappier than religion. Is there some product that is sold that I can use as an analogy that can also be linked to sexism?]
I'm often saddened by the infantilising effect of high technology on adults.
[I probably have the word 'infantilising' in my head because I'm so intent on doing it to 'technologists' in this post.]
From being in control of their world, they're thrust back to a childish, mediaeval 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.
[The scarier it sounds out there, the more you will feel like giving up almost anything for Apple's guiding hand.]
With the iPhone OS as incarnated in the iPad, Apple proposes to do something about this, and I mean really do something about it instead of just talking about doing something about it, and the world is going mental.
[I don't need to claim anymore that Apple did anything good, before. Nothing was ever good before the iPad. Repeat after me.]
Not the entire world, though. The people whose backs have been broken under the weight of technological complexity and failure immediately understand what's happening here. Those of us who patiently, day after day, explain to a child or colleague that the reason there's no Print item in the File menu is because, although the Pages document is filling the screen, Finder is actually the frontmost application and it doesn't have any windows open, understand what's happening here.
[Think of the children!]
The visigoths are at the gate of the city. They're demanding access to software. they're demanding to be in control of their own experience of information. They may not like our high art and culture, they may be really into OpenGL boob-jiggling apps and they may not always share our sense of aesthetics, but they are the people we have claimed to serve for 30 years whilst screwing them over in innumerable ways. There are also many, many more of them than us.
[The iPad doubters have been sounding way too much like freedom fighters. Maybe if I characterise them as Romans, everyone will think *Apple* are the freedom fighters. Yay, porn!]
People talk about Steve Jobs' reality distortion field, and I don't disagree that the man has a quasi-hypnotic ability to convince. There's another reality distortion field at work, though, and everyone that makes a living from the tech industry is within its tractor-beam. That RDF tells us that computers are awesome, they work great and only those too stupid to live can't work them.
[All Apple fans who believe in Steve Jobs should feel personally insulted by those who doubt the wisdom of the iPad.]
The tech industry will be in paroxysms of future shock for some time to come. Many will cling to their January-26th notions of what it takes to get "real work" done; cling to the idea that the computer-based part of it is the "real work".
[I have to make it seem like my opponents have already accused someone else of not doing "real work", because I am about to do the same to them.]
It's not. The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS. The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table's order, designing the house and organising the party.
[All of these super good, ordinary things you should associate with, and think of as having been made possible by, the iPad.]
Think of the millions of hours of human effort spent on preventing and recovering from the problems caused by completely open computer systems. Think of the lengths that people have gone to in order to acquire skills that are orthogonal to their core interests and their job, just so they can get their job done.
[I changed my mind. You aren't dependent on the high priests of technology like helpless, probably sexually abused children, anymore. No, now I need to describe you as *too* independent with the actual skills to do your job, so that I can point out all that time wasted learning to do things yourself that you should now depend for on Apple. Let's just forget that part about about not wanting to be dependent and not wanting to be infantilised. I'm over it.]
If the iPad and its successor devices free these people to focus on what they do best, it will dramatically change people's perceptions of computing from something to fear to something to engage enthusiastically with. I find it hard to believe that the loss of background processing isn't a price worth paying to have a computer that isn't frightening anymore.
[In conclusion, I'm going to abandon the whole 'future shock' thing. There is no larger story here. The doubters basically just don't like the lack of 'background processing'. You don't even know what that is. Move along.]
In the meantime, Adobe and Microsoft will continue to stamp their feet and whine.
[Oh yes! The one evil thing I haven't linked to doubters is large corporations. My bad.]
[To sum up: the iPad doubters are probably a huge monolithic corporation of misogynistic cultists who are only saying what they say to keep you in emotional thrall to their complicated so-called 'free' advice. Apple, however, is entirely altruistic, and has only the best interests at heart of the children, nurses, doctors, and firemen when it charges you for its locked-down products.]