Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe
marypcb

Does Godwins Law apply to Apple comparisons?

I was half awake in Charleston this morning and musing over Fake Steve's ban on flavoured coffee (can't disagree there) and my mind went to the progressions of control.
I didn't complain, said the developer, when they came for the frameworks because I could write native code and hey, Flash apps can be resource hog. I said nothing when they came for the diaresis because I never use it and it's such a fancy frou-frou punctuation mark...

Ooh, I thought when I was awake; is that an offensive parody? And then I thought, I'm annoyed with Apple. Why? The iPad is a great Internet appliance (as is the smartphone in general) but like a console, it's a closed platform. You can't install just anything - it has to have been anointed under opaque and arbitrary oversight. Will it tempt kids into creating content and devloping apps or just consuming content? I think we've lost a lot of potential developers when kids switched to consoles where it's been much harder to go from playing games to coding them than on the PC and I think if we hail the iPad as the ultimate netbook (which too many people I respect have done for me to be comfortable) then we risk losing the huge diversity of more open systems. I think I feel a little like FOSS and Linux fans do looking at Microsoft (though I find modern Microsoft more open than many think and more open to having conversations). And yes, jailbreaking - but that's not a long term alternative, it concerns me that it's more than once involved security holes and to do it you already have to be at a technical level of ability (and have access to something not an appliance). And yes, Web apps and Web development, but I rather like rich client apps and the power of a full OS.

Turns out, quite a lot of people want an Internet appliance rather than a computer; now that the Internet is powerful enough that can be enough for a lot of people. But I don't want us to say that's all anyone is supposed to want or need - that what's enough for one person is enough for everyone else, no matter what they do. I don't want any one person, experience genius or not, locking the appliance down so hard in the name of experience that it can't be as empowering as an open computer. I want full-power computers to get easier to use so it's not a choice between usable and powerful, between easy and open. And I don't want us to say anything less is acceptable however shiny it is.
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