The iPad is the beginning of the end

In my circle of friends, fam­ily and work­mates I’m the tech­no­lo­gical shaman who helps them acquire, use and heal their com­puters Macs.

I’ve always enjoyed this. Not so much the tech­nical tinker­ing, but the prac­tice of help­ing people to get on with what they’re using a com­puter for in the first place. In fact it’s always frus­trated me that people like myself are needed in the first place. And even more so the dis­missive atti­tude of so many of the tech­no­lo­gists and com­puter geeks who fre­quent the tech­nical for­ums that I myself gain much of my know­ledge from. For them com­puters are not the prob­lem, people are just bum­bling idi­ots. Rather than design com­puters around people they think people should mold them­selves to the way a com­puter works.

True to form many of them are apo­ca­lyptic about Apple’s new iPad. They see it as a toy, noth­ing more than an over­sized iPod, even an affront to their com­put­ing prowess. How can one get ser­i­ous com­put­ing done without a fil­ing sys­tem, mul­tiple win­dows or a mouse they cry!1 Fraser Speirs aptly refers to this as Future Shock.

Ulti­mately the iPad rep­res­ents a couple of things to me: on the neg­at­ive side it’s poten­tially the begin­ning of the end of the free and open inter­net as we know it. On the pos­it­ive side it is almost cer­tainly the begin­ning of the end of the desktop meta­phor. And not a day too soon.

Someone has finally got ser­i­ous about cre­at­ing a power­ful com­puter that’s easy to use.

  1. The truth is multi-touch input is infin­itely more power­ful than a mech­an­ical point­ing device. []

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