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Taking a bite out of Apple's vision

Damon Young (FDC) | May 18, 2010
''Think differently,'' the Apple ads once told us. Just as long as you don't say what you're thinking, it seems. Like fundamentalists everywhere, Apple can't laugh at itself.

Despite aspirations of magic and mastery, I suspect Steve Jobs won't have it all his way. Neither will Bill Gates, or the rest of their small cadre of market warlords.

At the heart of this will be a conscious refusal of integrated, automatic, proprietary perfection. Some will hack their iPads, installing their own programs or patches. Others will simply grow up and recognise the shallowness of fan loyalty to a fickle brand. Another opposition will be legal: anti-trust laws against smug monopoly.

There is also the ''back to basics'' movement, resisting digital seduction, for what's manual, unorthodox or unfashionable. If older tools are inefficient, they can also be cheaper, simpler, more flexible. And they can encourage craft, rather than deference to remotely controllable, pre-programmed routines. For wireless portability and creativity, a US$10 fountain pen can be a better investment than a $1000 iPad.

All in all, Apple still makes robust, fast, beautiful computers. But the technology is only as liberating as I am liberated. And, shock horror: Apple won't design this for me in California.

Damon Young is a philosopher and the author of Distraction: A Philosopher's Guide to Being Free.


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