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Wrong analogy, I think. There is an important difference between desire to tinker and desire to control. I don't tinker with my car, but I'm not going to allow the manufacturer to dictate who must repair it, where I must buy gas, which roads I can use...

Apple reminds me of homeland security, but prettier!




I'm not sure you've killed the metaphor yet.

Because, in fact, the sale of gas is subject to a great deal of regulation. That's to prevent someone from selling you adulterated gas that destroys your car's emission system. Or from selling you leaded gas that pollutes the air that our kids have to breathe.

And the reason the manufacturer doesn't need to enforce your use of the roads is that it's already being enforced by a higher authority. We have cops for that. And they very much do dictate that you keep your car on public roads, and not go driving off across someone else's lawn, or the National Mall.

If you think these extensions to the metaphor make no sense, you're missing the elephant in the room: Personal computers are insecure, and the average web surfer is more likely (probably, alas, by an order of magnitude) to have their computer steal their credit card numbers or grind to a halt under a flood of malware than they are to crack open the box or write a single line of code. An enormous number of people don't want the freedom I want, any more than they want to own an acetylene torch.


Well, like all metaphors, it's only an approximation. However, the laws don't dictate that I keep my car on public roads, they dictate what I do with my car when I'm not on my property. And while those laws are enforced by a higher authority, if you follow the chain up in a democracy, you come to me again, in theory.

To your other point, Windows is insecure, not personal computers. A true personal computer is/would be owned by me, not a corporation, not a hacker.

Hmmm... Seems to me I've seen this freedom vs. security argument elsewhere...


All computers are insecure. Do I need to repeat that? ALL COMPUTERS ARE INSECURE. OK. Good.


If it meant getting a car that was better than anything else on the market, many people would make that tradeoff. I value simplicity, design and functionality way more than the ability to run Flash, and I'm willing to pay slightly extra for it.


And yet when you go to a restaurant you order off the menu.


This is definitely a stretch. When I go to a restaurant I'm choosing a priori to give up control of my possible choices when I decide to go. There's no confusion. If I wanted to have full control I'd stay home and cook.

I suppose the argument then is that you choose to limit yourself to what the iPad offers by buying and using one. As long as a priori most people understand what they are getting themselves into when they buy an iPad, I think everyone would agree that people should be able to make that choice. The problem is that a lot of people aren't going to understand beforehand the limitations of this device, so they won't have made a fully informed choice.


The problem is that a lot of people aren't going to understand beforehand the limitations of this device...

You seem to be assuming several things: that this is peculiar to the iPad, that people who do understand the limitations also care, and that if they don't make fully informed choices about things they care about that it is someone's fault other than their own.

I don't think those are accurate assumptions.


It's most definitely not peculiar to the iPad, and I don't think my statement assumes that. I also don't think it's relevant whether people who do understand the limitations care or not, nor was I assuming that. Once you understand the limitations, you can choose to ignore them and buy the device. A lot of people will do this. Hell I even might! And that's perfectly fine.

But your last point is a good one. And I think it gets to the crux of a lot of the hysteria over this being a "closed system." A lot of consumers aren't very savvy when it comes to complicated electronics. Maybe that's their fault? I don't know. But something in me says it's partially Apple's responsibility to educate people about the devices they sell through proper marketing.

If Apple markets this ethically they won't mislead people into thinking this is a general-purpose computer. Because if people perceive this as a general-purpose computer, they will be sorely disappointed in a lot of ways when they get it home.

So It doesn't have to be entirely the manufacturer's fault if I make an uninformed choice, but I'd argue that it is partially the manufacturer's responsibility to educate me.


But something in me says it's partially Apple's responsibility to educate people about the devices they sell through proper marketing.

It is, but there are practical limits to that. We don't usually expect companies to highlight things about their products that some people might not like, we just expect them to not lie. Obviously they omit much, but omissions aren't inherently nefarious or misleading (I know you're not saying that), so we're talking about something(s) more specific than that. What should Apple be expected to make clear about their products that they aren't currently?

If Apple markets this ethically they won't mislead people into thinking this is a general-purpose computer.

Isn't it though? In the sense of 'tasks you can perform' or 'purposes you can use it for', it seems quite general. It has limitations in terms of what is available from the store, but how would you convey those to limitations to someone as being distinct from obvious limitations like how the lack of a camera prevents you from taking pictures with it?

I'm not sure if that's a clear question, but I ask because it seems to me that people with a less detailed understanding about how these things work tend to view software limitations as being just as real as hardware limitations, and that whether it allows them to accomplish the tasks they want to perform or not is vastly more meaningful to them than their control over how it does so. I just don't get the sense that people will be disappointed.




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