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.Here at OSNews, there’s been a pretty equal mix of “post-PC” boosterism and “the sky is falling” anti-app store hyperventilating. And I think that this kind of confusion and apprehension is pretty common among the geek elite. We recognize a cool gadget when we see it, but we also fear the thought of having jumped out of the Microsoft monopoly frying pan and into the Apple app store fire. I, for one, am a big iPhone booster, but also a dedicated jailbreaker. I love the device that Apple has made for me, but I prefer to use it under my own terms, and I would jailbreak even if it were illegal. I haven’t bought an iPad, primarily because there’s not that much empty space for me between my iPhone, which I already use everyday for email, quick web lookups, and RSS reading, and my laptop, which I use for everything else. I did counsel my mother to buy my Dad an iPad, as he’s been in the hospital a lot lately and uses it to keep in touch with the family and entertain himself.
The anti-iPad imperative is reminiscent of another geek obsession: net neutrality. On that topic, bystanders are similarly perplexed as to why it’s such a big deal. But in both cases, people who inhabit the tech world have a pretty clear vision of the worst case scenario and how it very realistically could play out, and just plain understand the implications better than a casual tech user.
Some of our most pressing economic, social, political, and environmental problems we face today are the result of things that happened decades or even centuries ago that just didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Pension schemes that can’s survive demographic shift, a patent system that rewards hoarding and litigation more than invention, mass transit systems that were dismantled in favor of the automobile, the re-drawing of the borders of the middle eastern countries by WW1 victors, etc. With closed computing devices and a non-open internet, technology activists fear that we could be laying the groundwork for a technology market that rewards a few powerful players but harms innovation for decades or even centuries. If those fears are justified, shouldn’t we all be sounding the alarm bells?