If you see a stylus, there’s probably a good reason.

I was catching up on things this morning and saw this post on Daring Fireball regarding the impending flood of told-you-so tech pundits loudly proclaiming that Apple “blew it” because they might include a stylus with the still-hypothetical iPad Pro that might be coming. It occurred to me that a lot of tech writing, like every other facet of humanity, sees only black and white, ignoring any and all shades of grey interpolated between those two fixed points. Surprising, I know.

But this isn’t about defending Apple’s choices. This is about something that we as a culture have done and will continue to do. We say things, write things, and do things that are irrevocably bound to us, carved in time, for later examinations to throw back at us, disregarding the context of what we did entirely. Words are disassembled and used as weapons. Meaning and intent are disregarded or reframed in a revisionist history that suits a new agenda.

When Steve Jobs famously made that comment— the “if you see a stylus, they blew it” one—it’s pretty clear that he was talking about the general use cases involving touch screens and human interaction. I think at this point, years later, we can all agree that in many ways, this was the right direction to follow. It’s hard to imagine a world where we didn’t touch all the screens around us with our fingers. But that of course doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for a refinement of those interactions, a subset, in which certain users see value in employing a specific tool to do a specific job.

Reading that comment broadly as “a stylus is always a bad idea” is tantamount to the shortsighted letter-of-the-law interpretations we see every day in politics, religion, and any other human pursuit that we feel passionate about where we point to something from the past and apply it to a current situation. Context, understanding, timeframe, and intent are all valuable variables that need to be applied to these ideas to better see the point someone tried to make. This isn’t a technological fallibility; it’s a fundamentally human problem.

Latching on to the core of an single statement in its most literal sense prevents us from growing bigger and better ideas. It’s exhausting to see a bold step forward turn into fodder for the most inane and recursive discussions possible. To come back to the comment specifically, even if Apple decided “hey, you know what… maybe we were wrong about the stylus thing” it would likely be because it took the idea, observed how the world applied it and made a judgment call. It wouldn’t have followed the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law.

I personally couldn’t be more excited about the potential a more powerful and advanced iPad might bring. That product line needs a shot of adrenaline. It’s been relegated to gorgeous, inspiring commercials and good intentions, but it hasn’t grown the way a lot of us had hoped. If there’s a stylus, great. The device probably needs it.

Apple is a business, and it makes products people want to buy. Steve was notorious for changing his mind, as anyone who’s even studied Apple casually can tell you. Shifting gears is how the company made it this far. Don’t assume for a second that anything that’s ever been said is gospel. That’s just not how progress works.

Let’s talk about the future.

As a kid (ok, a nerdy kid), I had dreams of an incredible future that my VIC-20 couldn’t even begin to predict. I watched science fiction films and fantasized about all of the amazing ways that technology would transform the landscape of our lives. As I grew older, and some of those dreams took shape, my excitement and passion for tech increased as I watched developments come to pass that previously only lived inside my fevered geek-kid dreams. It goes without saying that if you showed a current generation mobile phone to yourself as a 12-year old, your head probably would have just exploded on the spot.

Which is why I’m a little troubled by the way Google is positioning itself and its products as the future of our technology. Not for the reasons the internet would ordinarily attribute to a proclamation like this (cult member status of a competing platform’s movement), but rather because at its core, I’m not sure that Google is being honest with itself, and with us.

Take Google Glass, a piece of wearable technology that looks like it was left behind by a time traveler. The geek kid inside me looks at that and says ‘Wow! I can’t believe I’m going to be able to have an always-on HUD for my actual life!’ because that’s just the way I’m conditioned to respond to products like this. The pragmatic adult inside me looks and says ‘Ok, good, but let’s see how the platform around this develops before we get excited’ because that’s how my grown-up brain thinks. But the fact remains that it’s a cool and interesting piece of tech, and I remain curious about it.

Look at Google Now, a recent addition to the Android OS with Jelly Bean. The main idea behind Google Now is that by plugging into Google services with your phone, your location, your likes and dislikes, your habits, patterns, and intentions will slowly be absorbed and presented back to you in a meaningful context, with relevance. Amazing, right? Imagine most of the friction involved in gathering in-the-moment information on your smartphone removed – you look at it, and it seemingly already knows what you want. Sports, weather, restaurants around you, everything that matters to you right now as you’re looking at the phone. It’s a very cool idea and one that paints a better picture of our machines working for us, as opposed to with us, or in some cases against us (let’s just say it took a while for Siri to actually grow into her promises of information at my fingertips the way I wanted it).

Great ideas, executed and advanced by what was and is one of the greatest engineering companies on the planet. No one would assert that Google can’t bring the future to us, given how it’s shaped the web and redefined how we interact with it. My problem is this:

Google is bringing the future to us so it can monetize every single thing we do in our lives, online or offline.

Google is not a pure engineering company, rather, Google is a company that engineers great products (and they are great) in order to advance a larger, singular objective: the collection of user-provided data to better serve advertising interests. It’s not a company that sells products to people; were that the case, this entire thing would look and feel very different to me. We know how Google makes money. It’s not a secret. As I watch Google release more impressive and robust mobile products with comments like “there’s no margin, it just basically gets (sold) through” the picture only gets clearer. It’s not making money on hardware. It’s not making money on software, as it’s traditionally kept software products free to most if not all users. The money comes from us, and all the information we give it. The money comes from tailoring ads to match what it thinks we want. Which at its core is itself a great idea, but leads to a lot of other questions.

But before this gets tin-foily, let me refocus: if you’re cool with Google knowing a lot about you, that’s fine. For the most part, I don’t even care myself. I’m not super paranoid about this kind of stuff, although I do tend to approach it with a more skeptical eye. What I don’t like and can’t agree with is the notion, as presented by the company, that it’s changing the landscape of consumer technology and the way we interact with one another for any noble reason. It’s not doing this to join all the peoples of the world together in blissful online harmony. It’s not doing this so that we can experience amazing new things and drive humanity to new heights. It’s doing this because (first and foremost) it’s made of geeks and geeks like to build cool things (and other geeks want to use them), but those things take money to build and sustain, and the way it makes its money always seems to take a backseat to the wow factor. And that’s what troubles me. It’s not the advancement of technology for the love of the art and science of human discovery – it’s cool technology, but it leaves a lot of questions in my mind about motivation and method.

And listen – all of this could just be fired-up rhetoric in a few years anyway, when Google announces complete data transparency and personal information is regarded with the sanctity some of us feel it should be. I’m not holding my breath for that particular outcome, but to be fair, Google’s always been first to say that we should be able to get our data in and out of a system when we want it, and its guiding corporate goal is to stay away from the Dark Side of the Force. All I’m saying is, think about the subtext of all the things you see coming to market and the messages you’re receiving along with them. Ask yourself: is this the future you’ve always dreamed about or is it the future brought to you by [ADVERTISER NAME HERE™]?

Adding “value”.

Instacast released its 2.0 update yesterday to some Twitter fanfare. As a regular user of the app, I updated immediately. Now, to be clear, I don’t love Instacast. In fact, I have lots of personal issues with it. But as a regular listener of podcasts, it sucked the least of all the apps I’ve tried, and I’ve tried many. I wish so much that Apple would add even the most basic subscription support for podcasts to iOS within the native music app, but they haven’t, and it doesn’t look like they will any time soon.

What I found after updating was an interface that remained just as abstruse as the initial one, with the “added value” of reduced functionality. Most notably, the default behavior for podcasts downloaded within the app was altered. The original behavior of the app was that when podcasts were downloaded, they would stack up in a list, from oldest at the top to newest at the bottom. Now that order is reversed, to list the newest at the top. Which fundamentally changes the only way I listen to shows.

For a $1.99 in-app purchase, it appears that I could add functionality that would allow me to edit this playlist, and (I assume) change the order to something more palatable. I’m assuming this because I’m not going to make that purchase. And believe me, it’s not because I’m cheap. I buy tons of apps. I buy apps I don’t even plan on really using if I want to support the developer, because I believe in doing things like that. I won’t be adding that in-app purchase for two reasons:

1) because I don’t like paying again for what I was getting as a previous paying customer

and more importantly

2) because I have a hard time supporting something I don’t even really enjoy.

Instacast was originally a purchased app, not a free one. I understand completely if the developer of a free app wants to monetize through in-app purchase, but having paid for the app initially, and not expecting anything more than the basic continued functionality I was experiencing, to be forced to use the app differently is annoying, but then being told that I can use it the way I was using it if I pony up a few more bucks is really annoying. I’m not talking about adding new abilities or allowing some additional features. I’m talking about simply making it work the way it was previously working, one day earlier.

Furthermore, as I said, I don’t really love this app. And I know I might be in the minority, but I paid for and used the iPad app too, and I don’t like it either. Both UIs are needlessly complex, and expose inconsistencies throughout. The iPad app is almost unusable in my opinion because between the arcane controls and the spotty iCloud integration, I can never tell what’s actually happening within the app, and as such, I just stopped using it. I know a lot of people who wrote great things about it when it launched, and it was pretty as all get-out, but I’d be curious to know how many people are still actually listening to podcasts on their iPad at this point with it.

Listen, despite how this all came off and how my cranky tweets read, I don’t hate this app, nor do I hate the developers, their families or their pets. I just really believe very strongly that if you’re going to refine a UI, then really refine it. Don’t add things that seem like new controls yet obfuscate purpose. Don’t take gestures that were slightly difficult to discover but very useful and replace them with even more confusing options. If you have an overcomplicated hierarchy, make it simpler. And for the love of all things holy, don’t up-end the way people (especially previous paying customers) use the app and then tell them they can buy “great new features” in order to restore the basic way they’d been using the app to begin with.

I’m fully aware that these choices were most likely not arbitrary, and actually based on feedback. They represent a conscious choice on the part of the designers and developers to respond to feedback and provide what they feel is an improvement to the existing model. Choices are hard. I get it. The craziest part of all of this? Instacast is still, after all of this, significantly cleaner and easier to use than almost every single other podcast app in the App Store. Don’t even get me started on the other app everyone endlessly recommends to me (because I have it, surprise, and I have even fewer things I can point to as good).

Bottom line: creating in-app purchase options is a tricky choice, and I give a lot of credit to devs who pull it off successfully. But this kind of purchase isn’t adding value. The only thing it’s adding is frustration.

Update on Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This post was picked up at iMore and there’s some discussion over there about it. I was challenged as to the harshness of the post, and I defended my reasoning behind writing it if you’re curious about my motivations. (Hint: it wasn’t because I wanted to conduct a witch-hunt today.)

Update on Thursday, June 21, 2012

Since it was brought to my attention earlier today, it is worth noting (and I should have posted it as soon as the change took place) that Vemedio has since reinstated the features that were pulled from Instacast and placed behind the in-app purchase. They listened to their user base, respected the feedback, and in turn, I respect that decision. It was a tough call, and I disagreed with it initially, but I certainly harbor no ill will, despite how cranky I was the first time around.

Apple’s shot across the bow.

Rene asked me to write a few thoughts on Apple’s announcement after our coverage on Thursday, along with a few other iMore writers. As a former educator, I have some strong feelings on how we’ve not served our children in the past, and some stronger feelings on going forward into the future. You can read my thoughts below, and see the other writers’ thoughts here.


Apple’s move to advance our shamefully archaic system was met with a lot of debate on Thursday morning. On one side, we heard from utopian education advocates (myself included to some degree), extolling the virtues of a centralized e-textbook platform, and Apple’s commitment to engaging our youth. On the other hand, I had a few spirited conversations with those who feel that by making great educational opportunities “expensive” (meaning only upper-class schools may even be able to apply these new techniques, leaving inner-city and less-privileged districts behind) Apple has driven a wedge between the haves and the have-nots, making education less democratized and less accessible to all. Personally I feel that both sides have points, but quite honestly, nothing is fair. Education has, in the past decades, grown more and more to be the bastard child of the federal budget, despite the headline-grabbing initiatives that get introduced to fanfare and few results. Kids are taught only to pass tests, so that funding can be applied to districts who have “earned” it. Kids are getting the short end of every stick they see in school, and nothing is changing. And what if Apple’s entire move here is not about changing the entire education system, which it most likely understands is irreparably flawed, but rather to disintermediate education the way it did carrier control with the mobile market? What if Apple’s ultimate play (with products like iBooks Author) is to put education back in the hands of students (and the actual individuals they interact with on a daily basis), obviating the need for a bloated, antiquated system in much the same way that it saw the carriers as a necessary evil in bringing iOS to the hands of users?

Certainly not every district is hopelessly broken, and not every kid’s education suffers at the hands of an ever-shrinking budget. Children who seek out learning will always learn, and those who do not will make their way in the world. It has happened for years and will always be the case, no matter what costs we apply. Apple’s attempt to shake up a system so mired in early 20th century standards is merely a shot across the bow of a huge vessel that’s been in motion for as long as any of us can remember. It will not be panacea to all the ills of our society, nor should people expect Apple to fix every problem. Apple is a business; they exist to make money and sell merchandise. Those who are decrying its attempts to make learning better are missing the bigger picture. Should we all shun this advance because only rich kids might get a chance to use it at first? Education needs disruption, and all it takes is a cursory look at the developing countries of the world to know that mobile computing is the future for our society. Not everyone will get an iPad or an iPhone, but at some point, everyone will be exposed to learning in a better, mobile capacity, and we’ll have Apple to thank for jumpstarting the efforts of those who would sit idly and let our children continue on the endless march to mediocrity.

Seth worked for five years as a computer instructor in a public middle school (grades 6-8), for six years with kids with autism, and was a member of district-wide technology planning committees.


Since that post was published, I’ve heard a lot of other great commentary regarding the fact that this is all just more of the same kind of whiz-bang, “look how fun we can make learning” that we’ve been seeing for decades. I think there’s a lot of truth to that sentiment. However, even if this is only a first step, it’s an interesting one. This is by no means a problem that’s easily solved.

Tired.

On the heels of what many are describing as the cataclysmically disappointing iPhone 4S announcement yesterday, the internet is rife with tales of Apple’s inevitable post-Steve descent into oblivion. Why, the mere suggestion that Tim Cook has bungled his first big show is enough to send bloggers the web over into paroxysms of glee, breathlessly recounting every misstep, every missed opportunity, and every underwhelming demonstration onstage at that emotionally vacant press event.

But today, after the smoke’s cleared, I’m just tired. I’m tired of the outlandish expectations the media creates. I’m tired of contrarian backlash, built on incorrect assumptions about how an extremely successful company needs to operate to continue on the path to further success. There simply isn’t any way to even view Apple announcements through any lens of reality anymore, and it’s tiring.

Vultures feed on the flesh of the dead, but Apple is far from dead. We’ve stopped getting news from many of the sites we used to read voraciously every day, because what they’ve started serving up is reverse hyperbole, seemingly with the intention of portending the end of Apple as soon as possible in some juvenile effort to scream “FIRST” when it happens and link back to the post. This is a company that currently has more money in the bank than most people can even fathom, and yet people are lining up to tell them they’re “doing it wrong”. I think when you can absorb most of your competitors without breaking a sweat, you buy yourself a little latitude in your decision making process.

For every reality distortion field, there exists an inverse reality polarization portal, where all of the things we ought to be excited about are derided endlessly and deconstructed to the point where nothing is even worth doing anymore. Yet Apple still sells millions of phones, every time, in spite of both of these phenomenons.

The most annoying part, though, is that after all of the nay-saying, market comparisons, vitriolic voice of the people and such, most of these writers will buy that phone, regardless of the lack of new body type. And they might even write something about how it’s actually a pretty big step forward and start focusing on how Apple is creating experiences as opposed to glass and metal bricks with which to do things. Because that’s actually the story that gets buried under the lede right about the time Apple releases new stuff. Heaven forfend you decide to focus on THAT, in which case you’re immediately labeled as a sycophantic Apple fanboy.

If anyone were actually analyzing this at any sensible level, it would become apparent that Apple’s not playing the same game everyone thinks that they ought to. In fact, they’ve never played the same game as the rest of the market. Why in the world would they start now, when they continue to move ahead of everyone else in the game they are playing? Because an enclave of echo chambered writers thinks they should?

Here’s your new headline for the iPhone 4S: Normal people unfazed by ludicrously unbalanced narrow market perspectives; plan to continue spending untold sums of money on new iPhone and apps. If you don’t like the new iPhone, I’m totally cool with that. No one says you have to. I think we all secretly wanted to be blown away yesterday by a new phone style delivered straight from the future itself. In fact, the presentation (in my honest opinion) left quite a bit to be desired.* But when you project your irrational “analysis” onto the population at large, you’re not reporting news anymore. You’re just tiring us out, and eventually, we’ll stop listening.

Update: 10.06.11 7:47 am

*and sadly, now I know why.

Netflix, misplaced rage and change.

Are you really that mad about Netflix? Really?

Really?

Are you going to cancel your account and go use another (read: barely existent) service instead in a huff? I bet you don’t. [Oh yes, I WILL] No, seriously, you probably won’t. In fact, I bet you’re upset primarily because you don’t know what else to do, and that’s ok, but let’s keep things in perspective. I don’t want to disregard anyone’s feelings, but there’s also a bigger picture here.

First of all, I completely understand that some people need to keep both a DVD plan and a streaming plan. Perhaps you have kids and you need those DVD-only movies. Perhaps you just need to see the latest and greatest as soon as it comes out. I get it. Really, I do. And Netflix gets it, which is why it’s making terrible decisions on spinning off and rebranding its services.

See what I did there? All in one fell swoop, I made everyone feel better about everything. But seriously, that name is horrible, and we all know it, and making people go to two different websites to do what they previously did nicely on one is terrible, horrible UX and someone should be punished severely for it.

But Netflix doesn’t care. Sure, Reed wrote us all that nice letter, but realistically, the company is making a huge play here, and we all need to understand what it entails. It’s straddling two very different distribution strategies; one with a viable future, and one that will eventually (possibly sooner than you think right now) die out. Hollywood’s asinine licensing agreements are not making anything any easier. To its credit, Netflix has been able to do what very few others to date have been able to: take insanely valuable content and create a business around it that didn’t involve the massive overhead a previous venture would have entailed. Think about it – Netflix wasn’t giving away DVD players to get into homes – it was cutting deals with hardware manufacturers to put streaming in as many places as possible. The infrastructure is the hard part, and it pulled a trojan horse maneuver on a litany of devices while everyone just watched.

But this isn’t meant to be a third-party apology for Netflix’s insensitive choices as of late. That pricing thing was handled poorly, as Hastings admitted, and Qwikster, well, let’s just say that if you want to guarantee a product’s demise, name it like a late 90s sitcom neighbor.

The bottom line is that Netflix is doing something that takes balls. Balls that other companies don’t have because they’re hedging bets and burning money on dying ideas. These are Apple balls. It’s the kind of attitude that understands and accepts that bridges will be burned, but sees a bigger picture that analysts and the immediate outcry will miss. I canceled my DVD plan months ago, after watching a single disc sit unwatched next to the TV for over a year. Am I completely satisfied with the streaming plan? Hell no, but it’s good enough for me now, and it can be safely assumed that given its trajectory, it will continue to get better. In fact, my biggest gripe with the streaming service has nothing to do with Netflix at all – it’s that I can queue up movies one day, and then since some labyrinthine license agreement has run its course, with no notice to me, those movies vanish, possibly never to return to that format.

So if you’re really going to get good and mad, make sure you’re leveling those barrels at the people who deserve your fury. Hollywood is afraid of change, and instead of embracing it and working to make a better distribution system with a company like Netflix who so obviously gets it, they’re including digital copies of movies with expiration dates with plastic discs in stores. They’re making sure you have a hard time enjoying what you’re more than happy to pay for by punishing you for waiting too long to watch the things you want to watch. That’s worth being pissed off about.

Seriously, HP. Pull it together.

WebOS needs to succeed. Seriously. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it is vaguely awesome. However, instead of doubling down on development resources and aggressively attracting developers themselves to the platform, HP has decided to do the easy thing: throw money at marketing.

Unfortunately, for HP, this strategy is doomed to fail. Gaga will not sell phones for you. A cutesy handset with extremely limited market potential will not attract new users (just ask Microsoft). And wrapping a delivery truck in Veer graphics and telling people to check out the ‘summer tour’ is just moronic.

HP needs to release hardware – compelling hardware – with reasons for people to choose it over any other hardware. This isn’t about Apple domination, or Android fragmentation. It’s about making the best products possible and running the best software possible, both of which HP, with its massive coffers, is in a position to do, and both of which – to date – it has failed to do.

The Veer is adorable, but not for everyone. The TouchPad, though not supposed to launch “until it’s ready” seems to be a very 1.0 device, and is getting reviews in which the reviewers themselves seem to to be disappointed, having really wanted to love it out of the gate. This market moves at a pace that is almost unsustainable. The longer HP sits around, not actively fixing bugs, not releasing great hardware, and actively pushing products that regular people can’t find a reason to buy, the quicker webOS dies on the vine.

And if the rumors are true and the Pre 3 doesn’t hit until the fall, you can forget about any kind of webOS resurgence. It’s done. People can argue that this is a marathon and not a sprint, but even a great runner can’t fall too far behind and make up all that distance.

If you say “because it’s open”, I *will* strike you.

See, here’s the thing.

“With a proper overclocked and undervolted kernel, this thing is going to scream.”

That’s from a great post about the Nexus S on Android Central.

Real, actual consumers (and not hackers) who say “I like Android because it’s open” will never, EVER follow it with something like you see above.

If they’d stop saying things like that, which are basically invalid marketing arguments they’ve accepted as religious fact, made moot by carrier restrictions on their phones, effectively crippling them way past the point of the iPhone’s perceived “lack of control”, I would be 87% less stabby on a daily basis.

Apple is not China.

I originally sent this as an email to Buzz Out Loud this morning. It wasn’t used on the show, but I figured it was worth posting anyway. The points are still valid. On Tuesday’s show, Molly made a comment comparing Apple’s App Store shenanigans to the way China handles their government. It just wasn’t a good analogy.

There is simply no way that you can compare Apple’s questionable App Store policies to China’s unmitigated death march on human rights. Apple is a consumer electronics company. It makes choices, based on what it sees as a value to increasing its presence in the market and its monetary worth to stockholders. China is an entire country, bent on oppressing what the world has come to accept as basic civil liberties and human rights to advance its own agenda. You really can’t draw parallels between these two entities. They’re simply not the same.

I know it’s tempting, because we all love to look at corporations as nefarious, overreaching behemoths whose every move is calculated to control more of our lives, and in a lot of instances, well, that seems to be the case. But… not in the App Store, k?

You may not like that Apple is selectively removing apps from the App Store, as it reeks of censorship – but it’s not a government. We as the non-stockholding public don’t get to have a say – it’s a company that makes products, to make money. Let’s all take a step back, and be honest – no one’s basic human rights have been compromised – no one’s undeniable freedoms have been trampled because of these decisions.

And frankly, we all know the App Store has too much crap in it anyway.

The iPad is born, and logic dies a little more.

On Wednesday morning, Apple revealed to the world a device so rumored, so rife with brazen speculation for the past decade, that nothing could ever live up to the fever dreams of the geek world that descended upon it like a pack of ravenous animals. The iPad took the stage, and the world was forever changed, whether you like it or not. Let me begin by saying that I’m not an Apple fanboy – I’m a fan of innovation, and devices that change the face of our world, and our lives. I think this device can be both, despite the naysayers and cynics, content to deride it based on nothing more than a spec sheet, a presentation, and the opinions of others.

Let’s get over the name right off the bat. For God’s sake, there’s a million other “Pads” that we never had a problem with before, ThinkPad being the most obvious. Not to mention the fact that when it was introduced, the Wii was completely skewered because of its chosen moniker. Now it’s the biggest-selling console in the world, and everyone shut the hell up about it relatively quickly. Get the period jokes out of your system now, because they’re not really that funny in the first place, and you’re going to be eating your words when you eventually buy one. And we both know you will eventually buy one.

People are crying over the locked-down environment and the death of “free computing”. Well, let’s be honest: first, aside from people who are willing and able to learn about computing and spend the time and money to stay on top of things, the rest of the world isn’t interested. They just want their email, and their pictures, and their Facebook, and that’s enough for them. And if you’ve ever had to do support for a barely-tech-literate relative, you likely thanked the gods of free time when you saw that thing unveiled. Most people don’t use computers the way we do, and they don’t care if they can only run certain apps in a walled garden. They like it that way. Not having to worry about exploits and issues because of a sealed computing environment is what the world actually wants, despite the market’s best efforts thus far to persuade them to the contrary.

Second, the idea of “free computing” is terrific in principle, terrible in practice. Since people don’t bother to learn, the ability to manage their own systems becomes a liability that for which we all pay the price. Spam, viruses, zombie botnets – they’re all largely connected to a massive group of people who don’t pay attention to what happens on their computer, or don’t even know how to. So protecting processes and users without them having to think about it is not necessarily a bad thing for anyone, save software zealots who believe everything they own needs to be under their full control. It’s simply not reality, and that’s a fact. If you don’t like the way Apple manages their devices, there’s a ton of other options for you. Quit your bitching. They’re not obligated to do what a small, vociferous group of computer patriots wants. They’re in the business of making money, and making software accessible to everyday people without command-line experience. Period.

Apple simply said “this is where we see things going”. You don’t have to agree! That’s what is so wonderful about living in a world with choices! Don’t like that UI or platform philosophy? Don’t buy an iPad. This is a consumer electronics manufacturer, not an oppressive government regime. To equate their choices in product development as such is insane.

There will always be a place for full-on computing. Apple is not saying you can’t have that. Hollywood is not going to edit days of HD footage on an iPad. Professional designers are not uninstalling CS4 as we speak in unfettered anticipation of a brave new world with the iPad. Professionals need professional tools. They will always have them, in whatever form they take. To become senselessly reactive and defensive to a non-existent threat is beyond irrational.

I’ve also heard arguments that it turns everyone into passive consumers of media as opposed to creators. Guess what? Most people like being passive consumers. The droves of people who walk into a store and buy a computer because they think they need one are not the people who are changing the face of media and driving the industry forward. In fact, the greater number of people who use computers are those who read, watch, and listen, not write, film, and compose. It’s just numbers, I’m not trying to be judgmental. However, those who want to create will do so, and a platform shift will not change that.

I want to create, hence I will find ways to use that device to change the way I do it – to enhance my ability to do it – and to get my creativity out into the medium in which I choose to deliver it. So the argument that we’re losing something when nothing was there in the first place is invalid. Furthermore, given the amazing amount of creativity that was spawned on the iPhone platform, I would not even be surprised to see the same kind of new tools on the iPad. It’s a foregone conclusion as far as I’m concerned. Creativity will take a new shape, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

To the industry pundits, analysts and self-proclaimed “experts”: savagely criticizing the iPad before you’ve even had a chance to touch it is just asinine. I’m pretty sure not all of you were there on Wednesday. Yet most of the comments from those actually coming out of the event conveyed the same thought: seeing isn’t believing, until you’ve had your hands on it. I wouldn’t even begin to argue emphatically that a certain car was a piece of crap without ever getting behind the wheel myself and driving – yet that’s exactly what most tech writers are doing in their write-ups. It’s bad journalism, and even worse overall decision-making as a human being. We teach small children better than that (“How do you know you hate that food? You haven’t even tried it!”); certainly you can make the same leaps in logic. You can theorize that it won’t do as well as others might think, but to look at it and call it a giant iPod Touch is oversimplification to the point of hyperbole. Clearly, it’s not, and Apple simply wouldn’t release a product that was. You can think what you want about Apple; it’s not the mid-90s anymore – they’re just not that dumb.

I know how the Internet can be, and I know it’s always the same cycle. I just don’t understand when it became more productive to blindly tear things down for no better reason than pageviews than to at least entertain the notion of what might be. There’s no way anyone – even Apple themselves – can see the future. This platform could become something so much more than what we saw in that presentation. In fact, it’s almost a certainty that it will. I was a serious critic of the original iPhone, and it wasn’t until the development possibilities opened up through the App Store that I began to see potential where I scoffed before.

The iPad presents a unique shift for computing, and the fact of the matter is that any movement is good. We’re using essentially the same kinds of boxes now that we did 30 years ago, just with fancier guts. Isn’t it time to just try something new?