Linked by David Adams on Wed 7th Jul 2010 19:09 UTC
Apple A Forbes article notices that while the iPad's reception from the public and the mainstream press has been overwhelmingly positive, the prevailing sentiment among some alpha geeks has been negative to the extreme. The conclusion, of course, is that these people aren't reacting to what the iPad is, but rather what it represents: a violation of the ethos of the personal computer. The author of the Forbes article concludes that much of the anti-iPad vitriol is hyperbole, and doesn't help advance the cause. It's a thought-provoking question.
Permalink for comment 432950
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE: Comment by kaiwai
by alcibiades on Fri 9th Jul 2010 07:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by kaiwai"
Member since:

No, this is not what is going on.

What is happening is that one corporation, with a culture firmly stuck in the 1955 of Walt Disney, is exercising control over people's reading and movie watching and application installation on machines they have bought. When you look at the censorship they apply, it turns out that what they want to ban is perfectly legal in all Western jurisdictions. They wwant to ban pictures of ladies in swimsuits, access to books that have been lawfully on sale for half a century, cartoons of public figures. Applications that run or were written in 'the wrong' programming languages. The head of this company in an Orwellian turn of phrase announces that this way of doing things will free you from pornography. It will also free you from the temptation to run the politically incorrect Matlab on your iPad, and it will free you from using the politically incorrect scripting language Lua.

Apparently they also now want Federal law in the US to make it a criminal offense to modify a system you have bought and paid for, so as to allow it to access content and applications from other sources and thus avoid these controls. Think about this, Kiawai. We are dealing with a company that really thinks it appropriate to make it a criminal offense to modify a computer you have bought so as to be able to run Matlab on it. What do you think their state of mind can be to even dream that this is a reasonable idea?

I have not mentioned the advertising. The next thing that happens is that the monopoly on supply of applications and content enables Apple to extend its functionality to load advertising into both, and to ban anyone else from so doing. So Apple is now able to sell you a computer, then force you to use apps which are loaded with ads, and ban anyone else from accessing this ad space. You can be sure there will be no suggestive or subversive messages in these ads. Yes, you will be free from ladies in swimsuit in them, you'll be free from anything that would have struck Walt Disney in 1955 as being in questionable taste.

If this were a company with no influence and no great market share, it would be of no social importance or political significance. Apple unfortunately is not. It has very large, dominant, share in smartphones, it has large share in the iPad segment. It has great influence. Its model will inspire other companies to follow suit.

What Apple is moving towards is a world in which large corporations control what is read, what is watched, and what is done on computers and media access devices. It is using this control to impose a politically correct subset of the real chaotic and often offensive real world culture. Others will follow its example, if it is allowed to succeed, and we will end up again in a culture which most people here have never experienced, one of stifling conformity and uniformity, one in which Lady Chatterly's Lover and Ulysses could be prosecuted for indecency, but in which people cheerfully bought tickets to see two men beat each other to a pulp in public for profit. There was nothing obscene about quite extreme violence. The erotic was a different matter.

It was a world in which Louis Malle's film, Les Amants, could have the frames which revealed its entire point cut as indecent, because they showed women capable of experiencing sexual pleasure, but in which John Wayne could be seen every Saturday shooting and killing whole armies of bad people and get a U rating. They died with a distinct speed and lack of pain, which struck anyone who had seen the real thing as far more obscene than the changing expressions on the face of Jeanne Moreau.

That, and Twinkies, and Coke, and Marlborough, and the Superbowl, is what you get when you hand control over your culture to an oligarchy of large corporations. Legal freedom to read and dissent becomes irrelevant because there is no access.

That is why not simply geeks, but anyone with a commitment to an open society, intellectual freedom, and the values of John Stuart Mill and the US Constitution, ends up, once Apple's destination becomes clear, detesting not just the iPad, but Apple. At the end of the road that Apple is on we will encounter the equivalent of the Index, which controlled access to information in orthodox Catholic Europe for generations. You may not see this, because its hard to see that imposing the values of Disney 1955 in brightly colored designer boxes is at all similar. Look at the effect on freedom to read and access however, and the effect will be seen to be the same.

We need to do everything in our power to stop Apple, and one of the most effective measures we could take is to object to any public spending on any Apple products. Anyplace you can influence what any charity or educational institution uses and buys, do your best to make sure none of its money goes to Apple. That we should boycott Apple goes without saying. It is only when they are hit in the wallet that they will change.

And don't underestimate the power of ridicule either. The implications of what they are trying to bring about are scary, but they themselves are ridiculous. There cannot, surely, be anything much more ridiculous and uncool than banning a version of Ulysses because it is too sexual? Well, maybe they could ban books on evolution, because it is a controversial subject. Or perhaps they should ban sites which question Climate Change? Or which cast doubt on our conduct in Afghanistan?

In the end, what defeated Mosley in the thirties in England, was ridicule. It has a role to play in defeating Apple also.

Reply Parent Score: 3