Feb 02

Dismissing Apple’s iPad is understandable. Given its simplicity and evident shortcomings, it’s easy to see why the tech elite might have little use for it. But the volume and insistence of the wrath, the sheer bloody outrage, is remarkable for a product only a few people have even used. What, exactly, do we have to fear from the prospect of a high-quality, non-user-servicable computing appliance? Heeere’s Joel:

The iPad isn’t a threat to anything except the success of inferior products. And if anything’s dystopian about the future it portends, it’s an American copyright system that’s been out of whack since 1996.

Titled “iPad Snivelers: Put Up or Shut Up”, his is an angry rant, but of great value in it is the distinction between the right to hack and the value of attacking products whose design makes hacking difficult. Like those he criticizes, however, Johnson doesn’t quite address the other issue that makes it all so murky: Apple’s near-total control of its mobile software ecosystem, and the brewing battle between it and Amazon over ebook publishing.

To me, the answer seems paradoxical. We have everything to fear from computers like the iPad, because it marginalizes computer tinkering as a hobby and threatens to turn it into an ivory-tower discipline like heart surgery or architecture. But there’s also nothing to fear, because hacking is a way of thinking and if low-end computers finally become unserviceable black boxes, there’s plenty of other things to hack.

That’s why Joel’s final point is the best one: it’s far more important that we attack bad laws like the DMCA than the hacker-averse product design it engenders.

Also, if you hate the iPad’s limitations, Dell’s Mini 5 might be the droid you’re looking for. Check it out.

“iPad Snivelers: Put Up or Shut Up” [Gizmodo]

[From iPad kool-aid victim goes on the offensive]

Most of these ‘openness’ whiners are just parroting talking points they clearly don’t actually understand and close to none of them could program their way out of a wet paper bag.

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