Archive for April 25, 2011
The cited blog post is critiquing Apple for having wonderfully creative technology but not well supporting software creation — and what does that mean for the future of computing, as Apple becomes the copied model. Apple’s tools are used often by professionals in the creativity profession, but too often, those professionals aren’t also involved in creating new technology, even if just for themselves, and Apple isn’t really helping them make that move. We saw a form of that in Brian Dorn’s dissertation work, where graphics artists had wonderful tools for creating digital media, but fended for themselves in learning to create software.
The concern voiced in this blog is that so-goes-Apple then so-goes-the-industry. This does seem to be a problem in our industry (is it true for all industries?) that ,when one company pulls ahead into a virtual monopoloy, everyone else adopts the approaches and strengths of the front-runner. How many “next Microsofts” or “next Googles” or “next Facebooks” have you heard about? The strengths and weaknesses of that company’s approach becomes the model that everyone copies.
Apple’s abysmally, disastrously worst ideas will be mindlessly copied along with their best. To some extent this is already happening. And if current trends continue, there will come a time when nothing resembling a programmable personal computer will be within the financial (or perhaps even legal!) reach of ordinary people.
The user-programmer dichotomy will be permanently cemented in place – even now, most computer owners don’t think of the expensive space heater on their desks as something programmable. But in the future it won’t even occur to a curious child that the behavior of his, let’s say, schoolpad can be altered in ways unforeseen by its makers – the essence of the creative act we call programming. We will be stuck with computers – machines which, within certain limits, are capable of literally anything – which have been deliberately – artfully! – crippled into being far less meaningfully-modifiable than our cars and houses.