They said it…


In the new 30-million-iPhones-strong Apple universe, OS X is old school. It’s a relatively open system, onto which I can install any program, get to any content, and even change how it works. I’m not obligated to go through Apple. That’s why instead of bringing the Mac OS down to its new devices, Apple is bringing the closed iPhone system up. — Douglas Rushkoff

Okay, there’s one thing–and only one–I find interesting about the iPad so far: that it shifts back to “read only” from the read write web.Jay Rosen

I was honestly surprised there wasn’t a push to release some of the creation tools in the iLife suite along with the device — it seems perfect for editing pictures (iPhoto), creating podcasts/music (GarageBand), or editing video (iMovie) … I’d add iWeb, but that whole thing is such a pile of steaming … never mind. I know there are apps that do these things, but this device seems to scream “use me to make digital stuff and push it out into the World!” I just think that is a missed perspective at Apple — they are a consumer company bent on selling digital representations of the stuff lots of people consume — TV, Movies, Music, and now Books. — Cole Camplese

…the reason that mobile learning is consistently overhyped, despite its obvious defects, is that implicit in the image of a student watching a lecture on his phone in a bus is the idea of higher education as a distributor of content, rather than as a community hub. It’s a way of going forward technically while doubling down on the old paradigm.

That is to say, the problems that Schank and Downes have articulated around it are precisely why it is attractive. A world without keyboards is a world where the old paradigm can survive. — Mike Caulfield

What we are seeing right now is “the return of the corporate-driven-platform-based computing” that is essentially killing the web, and endangering the open URL. And we all love it or hate it for what seems like all the wrong reasons: the device. Not the under girding ideas of openness, freedom, and affordability. — The Bava

Apple’s iPad was announced today, and yes, I want one. — Stephen Downes

Lest that last quote look like a cheap-shot, I’ll remind you that I am hardly immune to gadget-lust. And any reader of OLDaily knows that Stephen is hardly uncritical on this subject.

I can’t help but fear that the open web wave has crested, and what we are enjoying so much right now is the retrenchment of proprietary platforms and the internet configured as a virtual shopping centre.

Completely, totally, really unrelated: More Link Pollution – This Time from

15 thoughts on “They said it…

  1. on what planet is an iPad (I hate the name too) read-only? how much content is created via the web? blog. write. hell, plug a camera into it and publish photos. Yes, the App Store is vetted. Yes, that sucks. But that doesn’t make the device only about consuming media. I snarkily responded on twitter this morning that books are consumption devices, too, but nobody’s bitching about how closed and locked-in they are. You could write a book with this thing. You can’t do that with a book (well, maybe a blank one…) And the thing doesn’t support Flash either – if anything, that’s a good thing – standards-based content, rather than proprietary plugin formats.

    What acts of creation do you do that couldn’t be done on the iPad?

  2. We’ll see how the device plays out in reality, but what I find revealing about what little I’ve learned in the past 25 hours:

    * using the iPhone OS rather than OSX or some kind of comparable framework…
    * the deliberate decision to eschew standard connection interfaces like USB in favor of their own arcane hook-ups:
    * The software choices that Cole notes in the bit I quoted above

    The book is a one-way communication device. That’s why the development of the web seemed like a significant new medium.

    Apple can do what it wants, and if the products work maybe I’ll keep buying them. My concern is with how educators are responding to these flashy do-dads. I’m all for ‘standards-based content’, but rather than pushing for platform-independent mobile development along those lines we see a bunch of proprietary apps, and a bunch of Apple fanboysandgirls going ‘ooooooooo’.

    We have field full of people who moan about the proprietary headlock that LMS vendors supposedly have us in, yet we seem happy to repeat the cycle if the gadget is slick enough.

  3. 1. it’s a mobile multi-touch device. MacOSX can’t do that. iPhone OS can, and does it well.

    2. the dongle is a compromise. they didn’t add an HDMI jack either. or firewire. or digital audio out. or VGA out. the one slim jack fits, and can be adapted to do other stuff via dongles, without needing a device an inch thick.

    3. the keynote showed doing stuff with photos. there’s camera adapter connection thingy, so you can suck photos from a real camera, work on them in mobile iPhoto (as mentioned in the keynote) and do what you want with them. There are apps to do all kinds of stuff – is your complaint that they’re not all pre-installed?

    I’m really not a fanboy – sure I loves me my shiny Apple toys – and I realize I come off as an apologist for Jobs – but I haven’t seen anything that prevents you from doing what you want. It’s a device optimized for a certain use case, but one that can be easily extended to do much more.

    What’s the alternative? Would any device satisfy your demands for no lock-in? Every platform has lock-in. Even linux.

    I’m thinking I’ll wait until the device is actually available, and I’ve had a chance to see how it works, before I denounce it as an evil proprietary step backward.

  4. I find it very interesting how there are so many concrete opinions of this device when so very few have ever actually used it. People complain the iPhone is too closed… but I have no trouble creating with it. I photograph, video and blog from it regularly. If it were larger, and more powerful, I could run larger, desktop-caliber web apps to do more creation. It sounds like I could do those things on an iPad.

    Apple isn’t limiting anyone’s ability to create. Remember they build the machines that the content creation business prefers (audio/video/web/print). They even chose an open (as open as PDF) ePub format for their iBooks store. But everyone will bring their biases into the discussion and brand the device as handcuffs or our savior… long before touching it.

    I think an iPad could be an ideal student machine for a number of uses. In a number more, full-fledged notebook/desktop PCs will need to remain (like video editing). But for many, many people, the iPad does all they do with their netbook/laptop/desktop. Whether or not you’re this device’s target audience is a whole other question.

    But standards-based web stuff will excel on this device. We know that because it uses Mobile Safari, and that stuff thrives there. I’m happy that Flash is excluded as well. Adobe needs to move Flash to a more open option… why can’t Flash be an authoring environment for HTML5/CSS/JS & h.264? The web would be a much happier and energy-efficient place.

    Now all we need are standards-compliant web apps for education. I’m not waiting for Blackboard, that’s for sure.

  5. D’Arcy,

    Apple iPad is elitist, it demands you give over your personal rights to freedom and the pursuit of open source happiness. Like the syndicated Ted Talks, it judges you. So, the fact that you are defending this device when we both know it’s all about people,not the device and platform through which we share and learn is meaningless. So why support the monied elite? 🙂

    Ok, now real response: I don’t think anyone is saying the iPad is necessarily evil, but what is more concerning is the general approach to it being a game changer when Apple has consistently moving away from open standards and charged a ridiculous amount for their proprietary cords and the like. IS it the end of the world? No, but the iPhone, and potentially the iPad, is a high profile sign of where the web is moving—but not ony through mobile devices, but also through Web TV that don’t come with browsers, the XBox Live store, etc. I really like the article at Factory City for a run down of this reality:

    Point is, you’re right, it is not simply that iPad is a consumption device, because I think we could live with another one of those, but that the push for this device and it’s attraction maybe inflated and pushed because it is a consumption device, with a very clear economic model for both producers and consumers. And it is that economic model and its potential impact on an open web, which I agree is cresting, moves far beyond the iPad. The iPad is simply the occasion for us talking about a trend we can see in all too many places.

    Now get on board, damn it.

  6. The thing I love about my iPod Touch is that can do a hundred different things really well, thanks to the innovation of app developers. It is mobile; it has a nice long battery life; I can hold it in one hand while doing other things (like holding a baby). It lets me access about 70% of the kinds of content I want to be able to use. It rarely crashes, and at almost two-years old I feel absolutely no need to upgrade or replace it. It just keeps doing the stuff I want it to do.

    The thing I love about my laptop (a MBP) is that it can do an unlimited number of things, depending on how smart I can be about using it. It is literally a blank slate. I can install open source software, proprietary software, if I know enough, I can write my own software. I can blow it up and rebuild it and still make it work. I can play in “closed” spaces and “open” spaces with it, and it doesn’t care. Sometimes it crashes. Sometimes it doesn’t do the stuff I want it to do — but that’s often as much about ME and how I’m using it than it is about IT.

    Together these two devices form a pretty complete digital toolset for me. I don’t expect my MBP to do what my iPod does. I appreciate the limited nature of my iPod b/c it means that the (limited) number of things I ask it to do will usually get done well without my wanting to hurl it against a wall. If my MBP was limited in this way, it would be my worst enemy.

    I honestly don’t know where the iPad would fall in my toolset. It seems like a larger iPod Touch, which could be a very good thing for certain things I want to do, but I really like the small, portable nature of my Touch. It’s large and substantial in ways like my MBP but I would never give up the control that I have working in a real(full) OS. It concerns me that for some people having a device like this replace the laptop (with a real OS) might not be such a bad thing. But, at the same time, are those the people who value having a blank slate as a tool the way that I do?

  7. You say it looks like we’re moving away from open standards, but this is the same trajectory that all technologies follow. All new technologies, be it mainframes, computers, or what have you; begin life in a closed system that is ruled by propriety software. As the controlling company recoups their initial investment and as they realize they can’t keep up with user’s demand for new and shiny things, they open the platform. If they don’t, someone else opens their’s and they get all the market share (this is how Microsoft stole the market away from Apple back in the 80s, hopefully Jobs isn’t stupid enough to do this twice).

  8. So many of us on so many of the same pages! I made some of the same comments about consumption vs. creation on a radio interview yesterday. But I also said that, like Stephen, I want one.

    I think, really, that the genie of creation can never be put back in the bottle. Nobody is going to have an iPad as her only device. I do plenty of media creation (broadly defined) but I still have a TV (and an AppleTV, I’ll admit). Just because I like really cool consumption devices, it doesn’t mean that I want to have ONLY consumption devices, or that once I get a great device for consumption, I never get to create again. Writers still like books. Every musician I know, in addition to owning several guitars (or a piano and a harp, in the case of the last musician’s apartment I visited) also owns an iPod, and a CD player, too (records and a turntable as well, in many cases).

    I’d prefer that the iPad have a camera (and I think it will in some next version). Or maybe two cameras. It does have a microphone. But I don’t think that the “closedness” and the “consumption-base” of the iPad means the death of creation or even new cool ubiquitous creation devices.

    Remember that the blackboard (the black thing you write on with chalk, not the “LMS”) was going to be death of education, as was the pen, the radio, the TV, and of course the computer and then the internet. Let’s not get carried away in saying the same sort of thing about this new device. It’s us that makes the revolution, us that prevents the devolution. Not any mechanism or tool.

  9. Lots of great comments here, I am sorry I don’t really have time to adequately respond. I may need to write a follow-up post. But sincere thanks to all of you for offering such thoughtful and substantive points.

  10. The tv model appeals to a large number of adults, especially those who grew up with it playing a large role in their early years (think Boomers, Gen X). Tv has also been an appealing metaphor for people trying to understand the internet – a poor metaphor, but a popular one (vetted driven to you over familiar pipes, etc.) and one that helps obviate some fears (social media).

    I’m betting we see some faculty and administration interest in the iPad as a result.

  11. except that every single social media site on the planet will work just fine on it, unvetted, out of the box. as they do on the iPhone/iPod Touch already. as they do on anything with a web browser.

  12. Mmm, yes and no.
    Yes, those sites will be accessible, being built to Web standards.
    1) The iPad seems (I say “seems” because I haven’t poked at one yet) to add small hurdles to inputting content. As others have said, no camera, missing some direct input interfaces. Those hurdles could decrease the amount of content people input. I’m not sure about text – I haven’t seen good research on the effects of virtual keyboard vs physical keyboard on text entry. In sum, it seems to be somewhat less of a production tool than either smartphone or PC.
    2) The lack of media production tools – so far.
    3) The emphasis on Apple’s closed universe of iTunes-apps etc.
    4) The deep power of tv habits. As far as I can tell, the iPad is the most tv-like tool of any digital device out there, besides tvs.

    I could well be wrong. The device isn’t being used in numbers, yet, nor is there research. But I’m increasingly nervous about tv’s persistence in the internet age, and attempts to reconnect with it.

  13. Steven Johnson is on your side on this point, D’Arcy:

    “To argue in good faith that Jobs and Apple are not committed to user-created media is to ignore the entire first wave of Jobs’ reinvention of Apple: the iPod may have turned Apple into a Wall Street icon, but it was the iMac and the whole iLife digital-hub positioning that brought the company back from the dead. During the iPad keynote, four of the most impressive (and in-depth) demos were content-creation apps: Brushes and the iWork trio. There is no doubt in my mind that some rendition of iLife will launch within a year on the iPad platform, most likely exactly one year from now, within a few minutes of Jobs showing off iPad2’s mesmerizing new built-in camera.”,8599,1958217,00.html

  14. Far from it Bryan – thanks for the awesome comments, as always. I should have done more to keep it rolling. Had instead been mulling a few different angles for a follow-up post.

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