Skip to main content

You don't want an i-Pad? You are getting old!

The old tecchies recite their mantra of 'if you can't open it, you don't own it'. They lament that the i-Pad has no keyboard, no CD-drive, no printer connection - they miss the bundle of wires that make a computer a computer. "The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better", writes Cory Doctorow on "Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either)".
Well, sure. We are getting old and we say what we hated to hear our parents say when they got old: "those were the good old days".
You remember when you were able to repair your car by yourself - everything? When your telephone went silent - with a bit confidence and a drop of oil you could get it ring again. And the radio, yep, a flip against the coil, a resolute puff over the tunable capacitor, some dust-clouds - done!
Todays devices are different without being bad or evil.
The access moved to a meta-level. Go look at the way you do programming. In the (good, of course!) old days we hacked assembler-code, then moved to C (and still did some assembler-tweak), then C++. We started using Meta-languages like Delphi, created code by drag and drop, embedded libraries of code we did not even look at. We don't code the graphics-interface of our software anymore.
This transcending to the meta-level is happening everywhere. And it is good.
The i-Pad is a Meta-type of an access-device. The i-Pad is no computer and the i-Pad is no phone.


Sandor Ragaly said…
Since when does "meta" mean "castrated"? :-D And now, I'm gonna read what Cory Doctorow has to say!
PS: It's all about the bundle of wires...

Popular posts from this blog

Academics should be blogging? No.

"blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now" The London School of Economics and Political Science states in one of their, yes, Blogs . It is wrong. The arguments just seem so right: "faster communication of scientific results", "rapid interaction with colleagues" "responsibility to give back results to the public". All nice, all cuddly and warm, all good. But wrong. It might be true for scientoid babble. But this is not how science works.  Scientists usually follow scientific methods to obtain results. They devise, for example, experiments to measure a quantity while keeping the boundary-conditions in a defined range. They do discuss their aims, problems, techniques, preliminary results with colleagues - they talk about deviations and errors, successes and failures. But they don't do that wikipedia-style by asking anybody for an opinion . Scientific discussion needs a set

My guinea pig wants beer!

Rather involuntary train rides (especially long ones, going to boring places for a boring event) are good for updates on some thoughts lingering in the lower levels of the brain-at-ease. My latest trip (from Berlin to Bonn) unearthed the never-ending squabble about the elusive 'free will'. Neuroscientists make headlines proving with alacrity the absence of free will by experimenting with brain-signals that precede the apparent willful act - by as much as seven seconds! Measuring brain-activity way before the human guinea pig actually presses a button with whatever hand or finger he desires, they predict with breathtaking reproducibility the choice to be made. So what? Is that the end of free will? I am afraid that those neuroscientists would accept only non-predictability as a definite sign of free will. But non-predictability results from two possible scenarios: a) a random event (without a cause) b) an event triggered by something outside of the system (but caused).

Information obesity? Don't swallow it!

Great - now they call it 'information obesity'! If you can name it, you know it. My favourite source of intellectual shallowness,, again wraps a whiff of nothing into a lengthy video-message. As if seeing a person read a text that barely covers up it's own emptyness makes it more valuable. More expensive to produce, sure. But valuable? It is ok, that Clay Johnson does everything to sell his book. But (why) is it necessary to waste so many words, spoken or written, to debate a perceived information overflow? Is it fighting fire with fire? It is cute to pack the problem of distractions into the metaphore of 'obesity', 'diet' and so on. But the solution is the same. At the core of every diet you have 'burn more than you eat'. If you cross a street, you don't read every licence-plate, you don't talk to everybody you encounter, you don't count the number of windows of the houses across, you don't interpret the sounds an