Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Blame the iPad

Here’s how I know that Apple’s upcoming iPad is important: It’s already at fault for everyone’s worst fears.

Anil Dash says the iPad is sapping attention from political engagement. Annalee Newitz says it’s a glorified television. Alex Payne says it’s going to discourage programmers. Rafe Colburn says it dooms personal computing. Aaron Hemmelgarn is sure it’s a failure. A lot of people think it disrespects women. And some schmuck thought it might save print or something. (Yes, that last one was me.)

Take a deep breath, everybody. The iPad will be out in a couple months. Then we can see what it’s like. Maybe it’ll be a hit and develop into something really interesting like the iPhone, in which case we will push for it to be better. Maybe it’ll be a flop like the Cube, in which case none of this will matter (I doubt it).

Either way, most of what we’re writing today is speculation without any real world experience with the device. As a result, it says more about us – our hopes and fears for the future – than it says about the iPad.

Even Apple doesn’t know what this thing is going to be yet. Remember the first version of the iPod? It couldn’t do one tenth of what a modern iPod can do. And, oh yeah, it was too expensive and didn’t have enough memory and blah blah blah. Now they rule the world.

I admit I have an optimistic bias. I think that computing devices that create better experiences will lead to more computer users, and those people will go on to make incredibly interesting things. It’s happened before.

But the future is, as always, in flux. Personally, I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.