[The] Economic calamity that hammered music hits literature. The “solution” for writers? There isn’t one… So literature collapses before our eyes, while the same fate awaits politics, law, medicine, manufacturing… finance and real estate… Diplomacy, the military… we’re not gonna die of this, but man, the deeper 21st century looks like nothing anyone ever imagined.
—From three Bruce Sterling Tweets
On May 20th, J. Craig Venter and his team at J.C Venter Institute announced the creation of a cell controlled by a synthetic genome in a paper published in SCIENCE. As science historian George Dyson points out, “from the point of view of technology, a code generated within a digital computer is now self-replicating as the genome of a line of living cells. From the point of view of biology, a code generated by a living organism has been translated into a digital representation for replication, editing, and transmission to other cells.”
—Craig Venter creates synthetic life form
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that Apple has come out with the iPad. Here are my reactions, some quotes and payment wonderings around the new Apple gadget.
I don’t like the name. I’ll get used to it and it makes sense with iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Nice alliteration and family of product feel but I still don’t like it.
I was very bad at our little event’s test but mostly on details, overall hardware wise it’s roughly what I expected. Look wise I think the black bezel around the screen is too wide but I admit it’s needed for easy handling, the rest is pretty cool. I was hoping to be blown away and I wasn’t but it doesn’t mean it’s not better than anything else on the market. Also, supposedly the blow away moment happens when you can actually try it out in person.
I expected a lot more content wise though. I really thought there’d be a huge rework of the store and that we’d get books, newspapers and magazines. I thought Derek had hit it out of the park with his “hope” post. All we (where “we” is US only, iBooks Store is not available in Canada) got is a wood panelled book store and that’s it. (See questions further down) So I’m disappointed on that front, I wanted comic books and magazine subscriptions, I get (maybe) books in a few months.
Quite a bit of thinking has already been done, here are the best outtakes:
That’s where Apple is taking computing. A car with an automatic transmission still shifts gears; the driver just doesn’t need to know about it. A computer running iPhone OS still has a hierarchical file system; the user just never sees it. …
Lastly, a thought regarding the iPad’s aggressive pricing. Apple is obviously leaving money on the table here. They could easily charge $999 as the starting price and have hundreds of people lined up outside every Apple Store ready to buy one on day one. Then they could drop the price later in the year, as the holiday season approaches.
Clearly they’re more interested in unit sales than per-unit margin. The mobile computing landscape is in land-grab mode, and Apple is trying to stake out a long-term dominating position.
—Various and Assorted Thoughts and Observations Regarding the Just-Announced iPad
Like the first iPhone, iPad 1.0 is a John the Baptist preparing the way of what is to come, but also like iPhone 1.0 (and Jokanaan himself too come to that) iPad 1.0 is still fantastic enough in its own right to be classed as a stunningly exciting object, one that you will want NOW and one that will not be matched this year by any company. In the future, when it has two cameras for fully featured video conferencing, GPS and who knows what else built in (1080 HD TV reception and recording and nano projection, for example) and when the iBook store has recorded its 100 millionth download and the thousands of accessories and peripherals that have invented uses for iPad that we simply can’t now imagine – when that has happened it will all have seemed so natural and inevitable that today’s nay-sayers and sceptics will have forgotten that they ever doubted its potential. …
You know how everyone who has ever done Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? always says, “It’s not the same when you’re actually here. So different from when you’re sitting at home watching.”? You know how often you’ve heard that? Well, you’ll hear the same from anyone who’s handled an iPad. The moment you experience it in your hands you know this is class. This is a different order of experience. The speed, the responsiveness, the smooth glide of it, the richness and detail of the display, the heft in your hand, the rightness of the actions and gestures that you employ, untutored and instinctively, it’s not just a scaled up iPhone or a scaled-down multitouch enhanced laptop – it is a whole new kind of device. And it will change so much. Newspapers, magazines, literature, academic text books, brochures, fliers and pamphlets are going to be transformed (poor Kindle). Specific dedicated apps and enhancements will amaze us. You will see characters in movies use the iPad. Jack Bauer will want to return for another season of 24 just so he can download schematics and track vehicles on it. Bond will have one. Jason Bourne will have one. Some character, in a Tron like way, might even be trapped in one.
If you’re reading this blog, this is almost certainly not the device for you. At least not today. But stop for a minute to consider a regular person. What do they need? They need to browse the web. They need e-mail. They want to interact with the photos from their digital camera. They want maps and e-books and music and movies. But really, that’s about it. They’re consumers of media, not creators. What do they really want that the iPad can’t do out of the box?
Nothing, that’s what. …
Geeks are going to buy this thing. You’re going to see it in the wild. It’ll pop up in boardrooms, on planes, and in coffee shops. You’ll see it. You’ll admire it. And you’ll wonder, “Do I really need a laptop? Maybe that’s all I need.” And a year or two from now, you’re going to buy one. Resistance is futile.
This is the new PC. Sure, there are some things missing, and it’s not as capable as your HP netbook, but it really doesn’t matter: it does everything you need it to do, and it’s sexy as hell. Don’t pretend you didn’t ever buy a Britney record for exactly those reasons. …
There is no excuse for this thing not to have multi-user support. This could have been the world’s greatest coffee table device, if it only had support for multiple users. Think about it: the thing sits on the coffee table. Daddy logs in. He checks his e-mail and his sports scores. He logs out and puts it down. Little Timmy logs in. He IMs a friend and plays a game. He logs out and sets it down. Mom logs in. She get a recipe from her bookmarked Martha Stewart page and forwards some totally-not-funny cat video to her best friend. And so forth. This is the new PC. But it requires multi user support. If I can’t log in and have my own bookmarks, my own email accounts, my own IM lists, and my own Twitter feed, it’s useless as a family PC. And Apple, if you think a family is going to buy five of these things, you can dream the fuck on.
But the iPad represents a fundamental shift in the metaphors and language of “computing.” Or rather it extends that shift that was tested first in our pockets with the iPhone, and brings it to our desks, our coffee tables … everywhere else. The iPad is a huge change. …
We have lived for the past twenty + years in an engineer’s universe of computing, where layers of implicit understanding – about file structures, multiple programs, menu idiosyncrasies, nomenclature – are required to figure out how to make your computer do what you want it to do. To many of us, these metaphors are completely embedded in our brains. So we can’t understand how someone like, say, my mother, can’t figure out how to use her scanner software
—Why The iPad Matters
What you’re seeing in the industry’s reaction to the iPad is nothing less than future shock. …
The visigoths are at the gate of the city. They’re demanding access to software. they’re demanding to be in control of their own experience of information. They may not like our high art and culture, they may be really into OpenGL boob-jiggling apps and they may not always share our sense of aesthetics, but they are the people we have claimed to serve for 30 years whilst screwing them over in innumerable ways. There are also many, many more of them than us.
And maybe the best one I’ve seen so far, Steven Frank’s Old World and New World article. (I don’t want to quote too much, make sure to read the whole thing)
Then “next” arrived and it was so unrecognizable to most of them (myself included) that we looked at it said, “What in the shit is this?” …
In the New World, computers are task-centric. We are reading email, browsing the web, playing a game, but not all at once. Applications are sandboxed, then moats dug around the sandboxes, and then barbed wire placed around the moats. As a direct result, New World computers do not need virus scanners, their batteries last longer, and they rarely crash, but their users have lost a degree of freedom. …
The reason I’m starting to think the Old World is ultimately doomed is because we are bracketed on both sides by the New World, and those people being born today, post-iPhone and post-iPad, will never know (and probably not care) about how things used to work. Just as nobody today cares about floppies, and nobody has to care about manual transmissions if they don’t want to.
—I need to talk to you about computers
I’m not taking any specific quote out of it but Check Mate: Apple’s iPad and Google’s Next Move is certainly worth a read.
Knowing how much printed media companies are looking for new business models, it’s hard not to think that at some point there will be a way to buy “printed” media on the iPad. How? Are they on their own and have to each build an app for their own content? How can they find new ways to get payed for that content?
I’m wondering if Apple might not be working on an offering that will come later? But then, why is it called the iBooks Store and not the iContent Store or the iRead Store or something? Maybe written “non book” content is meant to go in a future re-branded re-designed iTunes?
Unless of course they are working on some kind of payment API where apps can offer a wider variety of payments through the App Store and Apple takes a cut? It’s already possible for example to sell a game and then sell levels for it. A more flexible and granular system might allow a magazine to be sold through the app as a subscription? Or bundles of articles for papers? Who knows? I just don’t see Apple stepping away from this completely and having every media property building it’s own app independently and with no advanced payment facilities. Doesn’t sound like a good offering.
Or maybe they will offer something through the browser? Maybe iPhone/iPad versions of Safari could have a payment gateway functionality built in and linking to the store?
Whatever the system, I think the content offering from Apple is still incomplete and something else is coming.
Blue is a good colour. It’s the colour of Neptune, of course; it’s the colour of the future of humanity. It is the colour of deep seas and of Cherenkov radiation.
When we finally move on from Earth in the late 24th century and take over the solar system, our city-sized generation ships will take off into clear blue skies just like this.
And blue is the colour of hyperlinks. It’s the colour of the virtual, of potential, of what might be beyond this link. It’s the colour of what’s about to come. It’s the colour of possibility. It’s the true colour of the web.
Outside of the blue thing, fantastic presentation all around.