Why Cory Doctorow Won’t Buy an iPad

I loved this Boing Boing post by Cory Doctorow about why he won’t buy an iPad. One of his points:

Relying on incumbents to produce your revolutions is not a good strategy. They’re apt to take all the stuff that makes their products great and try to use technology to charge you extra for it, or prohibit it altogether.

Just as I believe that relying on the medical establishment to improve health care is not a good strategy. Those in power (incumbents) will resist change, especially revolutionary change. Science — connecting beliefs with reality — is surely the most revolutionary activity invented yet professional health researchers, simply because they have something to lose, now resist change.

One of Doctorow’s complaints:

Then there’s the device itself: clearly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue.

Likewise, I believe it’s possible to do health research where everything is understandable. Where you can understand the data. Where you can understand the connection between the data and better health. The simple situations, treatments and measurements I use in my self-experimentation I judge to be an improvement over obscure health research, whereas I suspect most professional scientists instinctively think something must be wrong with it. Real science, they think, cannot be done by amateurs.

7 Replies to “Why Cory Doctorow Won’t Buy an iPad”

  1. Interesting point, but most people don’t want to open up their gadgets and tinker…

    The Open Source ethos is great at an individual level, you get freedom, but you pay for it in time and frustration. A friend of mine spent over 40 hours making a MythTV box as a replacement for his Tivo. Sure his customized box has more capabilities, and he saved a couple bucks, but his wife can’t figure out how to use it…

    Typical Consumers want an experience, not a hobby.

    The Apple platform, while it may cater to incumbents, provides a platform for all comers.


  2. “Most people”. “Typical Consumers”. “All comers”. Each is an insult, applied to any individual. Of course “most people” are well indoctrinated not to stray from their appointed place, and consume what has been homogenized for “all comers”. Each who strays makes it easier it is for the next to break loose.

  3. Cory Doctorow has a quaintly old fashioned view of computers and it is a hacker’s view. Computers are a tool. Who cares how it was put together as long as it works and is fast. All the innovation, all the excitement is in the software. And there are very few limitations on the creative energies of software designers.

    I don’t have an Ipad but all reports are that this tool works and is fast. That’s all I care about. I am waiting for genius developers to create apps that will better my life in new and unique ways.

    Cory Doctorow will ignore all the magical apps to come because he will be too busy trying to pry open the Ipad case with a pocket knife.

  4. I’m with Seth on this.

    @ Ed M.

    This stuff is a self-fulfilling prophecy. As long as tech is manufactured in a way that makes it hard to tinker, it /will/ be hard to tinker. If we create a demand for openness, we may nudge things the other way. I’d like to think most people aspire to be more than /just/ consumers.

    @ Jake

    You say “there are very few limitations on the creative energies of software designers” and you are right – but your argument falls here because one of those limitations is the control Apple impose on iPad apps. Cory Doctrow’s peice was as much about that as the hardware.

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