iPad meets Mac, new generation meets, old – what next? Photo (CC) Hassan Hodges.

Steve Jobs is threatening to destroy the Internet. And it’s not even his fault.

No, I’m not talking about whether or not the iPad supports Flash. I’m talking about the new propensity of various analysts to redefine computing, technology, and apparently the fabric of reality in order to fit their partisan positions around debates Jobs himself is framing. It’s detracting from the actual utility of Apple’s mobile tools and competitors alike. But more importantly, the people who write about technology seem to have lost sight of issues that ought to be the ones inspiring true passion.

Amidst the debate, I also think we’re losing our grip on the language we use to describe the things that make technology worth using for personal expression – creating, say, digital music and digital motion.

Curation

“Curated” has been one of my pet peeves for some time now, because it’s so often applied carelessly. “Cura” is care in Latin. In the art world, curation has real meaning, and “care” is most definitely involved. If you claim you’re a curator, then you better have put real spirit into selection, choice, limitation, and even care for the artistic expressions. Too often in music, we dilute that meaning – someone will throw a party, call a few friends to play, and say they “curated” the night.

Now, analysts at Forrester have infamously used the term “curated” to describe the iPad. This has, predictably, led to a lot of self-congratulation in the pro-Apple camp and hair pulling in the anti-Apple camp.

It’s really not worth getting sucked into that debate. The whole notion is patently ludicrous, whatever you believe. First, consider the source. This document, entitled “Apple’s iPad Is A New Kind Of PC,” sells for $499, and comes from a firm whose slogan is “Making leaders successful every day.” (I think that’s what my Girl Scout cookies said on the side of the box, but the official motto of the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts turns out to be, “Be Prepared.” I’m choosing the Scouts over Forrester Research, especially if I get stranded in the wilderness.)

A “curated” technology experience sounds like a great idea, but we have yet to see one. The notion that limiting development to trusted partners is one that dates back to game console maker Nintendo and its “Official Seal of Quality.” That gold standard became the butt of jokes as quickly as has Apple’s iTunes and its juxtaposition of censorship with free-reigning fart apps. (iPhone owners I’m sure can find an application as hideously awful as things like the E.T. game for the Nintendo game system.)

In a guest story for Ars Technica, analyst Sarah Rotman Epps elaborated on the idea for those of us unable to afford the Forrester article:

To compete with Apple in the tablet market, product strategists must bridge the gap between what consumers expect from a PC and what a tablet actually delivers. Most importantly, they should embrace a Curated Computing experience, which limits choice in a good way, turning the limitations of the form factor into strengths rather than weaknesses. The iPad’s success can be attributed to its guided simplicity: the only way to use the device is via apps, which are expressly developed for the device.

“Limiting choice in a good way” is not curation; it’s design. “Guided simplicity” is, specifically, interaction design. That’s possible on any platform. If the iPhone does it well, or the developer tools serve developers doing it well, then great – credit that. Instead, this notion that controversial limitations are the reason for Apple’s success have been consistently-argued talking points raised by Apple apologists since the iPad’s introduction. The cost is that people don’t appreciate actual design work Apple and third-party developers really have done.

Xcode, photograph (CC-BY-SA) Travis Swicegood. But Cocoa isn’t all Apple’s platforms are about.

Design and Development

In fact, to see how tortured Ms. Epps’ argument becomes, see how she describes application interface design:

Each of these applications is in itself also curated, since the publisher selects content and functionality that’s appropriate to the form factor, just as a museum curator selects artwork from a larger collection to exhibit in a particular gallery space.

Again, this is design, not curation. So I really have no idea what she’s talking about. You’re definitely better off spending that $500 on an actual iPad rather than the Forrester report.

For actual curation, see the superb blog Creative Applications, which reports on innovation in design and expression, including many of the best applications for iPad and iPhone.

Apple’s ability to lock devices to the iTunes store is a business model, one that has been discussed more than enough. It has the business model in common with game devices like the Xbox 360, in that only licensed software can run on the device – this much is true. To describe this business model as “curation,” however, seems out of touch. Even on the Xbox, on which there are greater controls in terms of distribution and (notably) no Web browser, there is very little sense that there is any kind of curated experience.

Nor is this about “native” development toolkits. Users naturally notice when cross-platform apps integrate poorly with an OS, so a lot of Mac fans in particular have experienced on worse-case scenarios with toolkits based on Java or Adobe AIR. Apple has exploited that ignorance by overstating the importance of its (otherwise excellent) Cocoa frameworks. End users are unaware of, for instance, the massive amounts of platform-agnostic code in C/C++ that often make their apps work, including a lot of those iPhone games.

Taken to its extreme, you can see how misguided this argument is. The mobile platform right now that has the most constraints on developers and, accordingly, user experience is Windows Mobile 7. In fact, in a sign of how important portable C development is to mobile development, Skype is joining herds of developers dropping Windows Mobile support, following the announcement that the next version of Microsoft’s mobile OS won’t support native code.

So, apart from being a misleading, inaccurate choice of terminology and based on technically inaccurate descriptions of the development and distribution process on the device, I’m sure Forrester’s report is really quite insightful.

Making entertaining interactive experiences is all about the degree of immersion – however you get there. Photo (CC-BY) Ed Luschei.

Immersion

Let me suggest an alternative term, and one very dear to the kind of development we’ve covered on CDM for nearly six years: immersion. What software for game consoles and next-generation apps have in common is that they offer more immersive experiences. Somehow, this has been lost, and I think it’s partly the fault of Apple’s (and Jobs’) own defensiveness about the controls they’ve applied to the store. The sequence goes something like this:

1. Some developers and users criticize aspects of Apple’s approach.
2. Apple defends their approach.
3. Critics seize on that defense.
4. Proponents seize on that defense.
5. Critics and proponents argue – now with the debate reframed on these issues.
6. Apple’s device is successful.
7. The success of the device is credited with the defense of certain decisions, not the product itself.

Oops.

It’s going to be a grim landscape for digital technology and expression if everything is presented as Apple or its opposite.

To see why that’s a problem, look no further than Android. Google has been quick to crow about how they’re for “freedom” because they’re providing support for Adobe Flash – never mind that what a lot of us actually love about Android is the fact that access to source code for the OS makes it easier to write apps, and to make those apps better. Nothing against Flash, but, well, it’s not at the top of my priority list for what I’d want to see from Android.

In fact, I think it’s the quality of immersion that makes the iPad and iPhone successful, and could make a wide variety of devices and software we haven’t seen yet successful, too. Ironically (or appropriately), it’s in some of these areas that Android specifically has lagged. I’d describe immersion as:

  • Expressive physical interaction. Apple’s superior multitouch sensors, firmware, and APIs mean that touch simply works better on the iPhone/iPad than on competitors. Good touch makes for more seamless interaction. Of course, keyboards and the stylus have a place, too, whether or not hipsters think they’re cool, and I believe future touch sensors will be better at handling pressure. Making hardware and software work well together in this area is the big challenge going forward for everyone, whether it’s a keyboard or a stylus or touchscreen or anything else. (Case in point: a lot of people still buy Blackberrys and Androids for the keyboards. If you’re typing a lot of messages, that’s the important interaction point to you.)
  • High-definition, full-screen experiences. Part of the appeal of game consoles has nothing to do with “curation” and everything to do with the fact that they connect to big, bright, pretty televisions and you use them from your couch. On a mobile device, this means likewise intelligent connections to external displays and rich, full-screen, 3D graphics and video on the device itself. Screen density is a big area, too – an area in which, right now, a device like the iPad actually does not yet excel. I think that’ll improve in future tablets from all vendors, Apple included. And it’ll make these devices terrific canvases for digital artists to get their work seen and used. Ironically, one reason will be that, unlike a more “curated” device like the Xbox 360, distribution should be far easier.
  • 3D graphics and video. This is an area almost everyone actually seems to be getting right, from hardware-accelerated video decoding and encoding to standards-based 3D on netbooks, tablets, and phones. Now if people just got graphics and audio right, and not just the former. (We have two ears. We have two eyes. See a pattern?)
  • High-performance audio. This is a big one. Sound and music are essential to the human experience, and even the most untrained ear is radically calibrated to tiny differentiations of sound. That means high-performance, low-latency, reliable, click-and-pop-free audio is absolutely essential. In the wild, this presumably helped us escape being eaten by bears, and gave us the power to evolve language and society. On a device, it’s a make-or-break part of the experience. Apple gets this right on the iPhone OS, and vendors like Google with Android get it completely wrong. It’s part of why we need improved audio APIs – just for simple, low-latency buffer output and native access to hardware – on Android. But it should be a lesson to all platforms about what matters. Nor is this a “niche” concern. Music and creative audio apps have been among the best-selling on the iTunes store, full stop.

Apple likes to make a big deal about how many developers are choosing their solution, meaning they presumably endorse all the decisions Apple is making. On the contrary, I think a lot of developers don’t like some of Apple’s decisions, but likewise see deficiencies in their current biggest rival – Android – on some of these “immersive” qualities, particularly sound and touch. (Android does pretty well on most of the rest.)

Let’s give credit where it’s due. Apple has an exceptional operating system on their mobile platforms. If you’re a fan or a foe, either way, that’s twice as much reason on both sides to pay more attention to what they’ve done right and what it means, technically speaking, for the user experience. Rich sound, brilliant touch, rich media, consistent UI tools, strong design, and a stable OS are all a big part of what makes users like their devices. None of them has anything to do necessarily with what the iTunes store or developer agreements do or don’t allow. And none of these things should be exclusively the domain of any one company – that’d be rather silly. Nor is this the end of the line. The successes here should present engaging challenges for anyone designing technology and interaction going forward.

This should come as great news to everyone reading this site. Rich music, sound, and visuals matter. The last generation of software was covered in dull UI widgets and complex, menu-driven interfaces. The next generation may be about art.

And part of why I bring this up is that I think there’s a particular opportunity for art and music apps to go beyond the last-century, hardware-modeled or menu-and-toolbar-centric interfaces of the past. There’s a chance to build the same sort of immersion for the creation interface as the audiovisual output that interface creates.

Freedom and Perspective

This was a long article. I type fast. But I do spend most of my energy in other places, not on these debates. I think appreciating both curation and immersion are essential to being artists, so I take that seriously – far more seriously than whether or not a specific gadget does Flash or bans nipples. I hope we don’t lose either of those discussions.

It may come to a surprise, though, that even though I work a lot on my computer, I care about ideas, language, and expression first, and technology second. I do have a life outside my computer – really – even if there are days on which the contrary seems true to me.

I got as angry as many of my friends when I read this story:
Steve Jobs Offers World ‘Freedom From Porn’

If you’re expecting an angry, anti-Jobs, anti-censorship tirade from me, guess again. (I won’t even get into “belittling”; I’d say Apple and Gawker have done their fair piece of that, each.) No, what bothers me more is that watching Gawker and Jobs alike invoke Dylan is just embarrassing. I’d like to believe Dylan’s lyrics were about more than gadgets, especially since his tool of choice (as pointed out to me on Twitter) was a pencil. Amazing art he made with it, too.

Tools matter, and having healthy debates about them is important. People who spend their days working on tools will of course be passionate about those issues.

But let’s put things in perspective. Technology is a human creation, even a human art. But it’s a means to an end. “Freedom” is about more than gadgets and software – anyone’s gadgets and software. I think at one point Jobs was trying to make that point in the exchange above, but in the midst of bizarre statements about “freedom from porn,” he lost the plot, too.

Real freedom is about far more than technology. And if anything, that can guide more meaningful discussions about what freedom can mean on tech, too.

Let’s ask some of the real questions about freedom. Of course, that encompasses developer tools and distribution, but not exclusively. If we use tools for expression, how can we share those with other people, regardless of what gadgets they own? (Maybe, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to buy?”) Even as artists working with technology, what translates in our art if there’s a power outage? What translates to parts of the world that share simple cell phones and have limited utilities? What does freedom of expression mean when you’re interacting with technology?

You might arrive at something like “free software,” but I think even that you might see in a broader context, because whatever freedoms you might have with the software itself, you’d hope you’d be using that software to, you know, do something.

We need to have a debate that isn’t just about agreeing with or arguing with Steve. And we need to reclaim words like “curated” or “freedom” in ways that they mean something, something beyond just technology. These words sum up the reason a lot of us are artists and creators, the reason we invest some of our money in technology as tools to make our art.

Oh, except “game changer.” You can have that one. I’ll keep freedom instead.

If you want to give me $500 for this quickly-typed rant, though, I won’t say no. I can give it to charity.

What does real freedom mean in technology, or music, or music technology? That’s a question you could spend a life time answering as a technologist, one well spent, and you shouldn’t need to use the words “Apple” or “proprietary” or “open source” to answer it. What does freedom mean? For that, ask a poet.

  • salamanderanagram

    here's steve job's apparent definition of freedom (his own words) in relation to the ipad

    "freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin', and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is."

    in other words, freedom is apple telling you what's best.

  • Adrian Anders

    I thought both Jobs and that Gawker Media writer were acting like children, with Jobs only acting slightly more mature (which is amazing considering some of his aspergery responses in the past).

    Job's whole freedom bit reminded me of that Presidential speech from Independence Day, and made just as much sense. At the same time, the Gawker guy took his ideas to mean that he wants to censor the whole internet. That too was a bit ridiculous.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    For posterity, as regards Adrian's comment:

    "Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

    That said, this isn't just Jobs and Gawker battling it out. It's clear onlookers like the analysts at Forrester are misinformed even about how basic development works. (Hmmm… I wonder if they're hiring.)

  • http://durkkooistra.com Durk

    Feel free to limit yourself, feel obliged to try everything.

  • prevolt

    Anyone introducing or insisting on a closed/proprietary system now is just not interesting to me.

    Jobs is a crazy case because he's always claimed to hold the philosophical high ground. Apple in the past had enough self-love to associate themselves with Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon, R. Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Martha Graham, Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso among others. That's crazy talk.

    Now that Apple's found huge lasting success all the cracks in their very singular personality are showing. They were never "right," just right for the moment. They were never a voice of reason, just a reasonable voice at the time.

    I'm not interested in considering them a leader of anything anymore, and I question the judgment of any Forrester type that thinks otherwise.

  • M_ntek

    "Freedom" never was anything more than "freedom to choose."

    I – for most time in my life – was a satisfied windows-user and never really cared about this firm apple, thought the iphone is a overrated toy, etc. Well, maybe because I enjoyed my "freedom" to download anything ripped from the net I could find, effectively "creating" a close to professional workstation I could do anything pros could do with. Now I use apple for the sole reason the pc-loving tech-magazine I use to read wrote that my macbook pro will surpass similar windows-pcs with like components according to music- and display-performance. Well, guess what, this ground-breaking switch in beautiful useability didnt affect my music in any way. I still collect tech (hard or soft) that seems rather interesting and try to get something together – sole change is i can afford to pay for it now and can choose useability over super-compatibility (=affordability).

    The real shift occured elsewhere: Search Beatport for 10000+ 'new' tracks each week, spend 1,50 to 2,50 € each and try to "create" a 500+ follower-list on twitter to follow your mid-class-tracktor-performances OR master the 100000000+ adjustments your Collision, Operator and 100+ PlugIns offer, not to mention understanding music, create perfect tracks and hope it is discovered by timbaland on myspace.

    It is a matter of economy.

    So what, Alberti re-combined doric and ionic pillars, ipad-djs re-combine snippets of well-heard music everyone knows and likes.

  • Tweaking some old ,

    Man , i love the titles of your Blog posts.

    Devices and Expression: Curation, Design, Immersion, and Freedom

    Yeah!!!

  • http://www.davidkanaga.com David

    "what translates in our art if there’s a power outage?"

    I like asking myself this question a lot… and also: what would translate in our art if we lived 10,000 years ago?

  • http://www.onyx-ashanti.ning.com Onyx Ashanti

    Apple will do what apple does. i wrote about it right after they announced the ipad http://onyx-ashanti.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-a… they cant help themselves…maybe nexttime, google, instead of microsoft, will bail them out.

    we, as modern artists, are on (another) precipice. we are in a transition between old and new that fortuitous and well timed as once this era passes, kingdoms will die and a new world order awaits. things are transitioning at the speed of thought. dont underestimate the power you have to create the meaning of freedom. we are artists; we create these metaphors. we push these things into the conciousness of the wider public. my belief is that the art-about and created with technology-reinforces the later acceptance of it. in the same way, we can create the metaphor of what this "freedom" is,looks like, tastes like, and interoperates with.

    as for apple. they've always been shiney and clever,but they've also been extremely efficient at shooting themselves in the face when it comes to their "long-game". my prediction all along; in 12 months, android will eclipse iphone/ipad by a factor of 3.

  • robb

    That dreaded E.T. game was for the Atari 2600 not the NES.

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  • http://dmlandrum.noisepages.com/ Darren Landrum

    I was about to chime in with what Robb just did. However, there are still several terrible NES examples. "Back to the Future" comes to mind immediately. I tried playing that piece of crap once. I also tried playing E.T. on the 2600. :) I might be showing my age now.

  • Damon

    Does apple really actually mean orange or even fig

    Or does that bite out of the apple suggest the apple has been going from iGood to iPad

    Or even more disconcerting has Jobs concluded the apply tree actually springs from the apple hanging ON the tree and that HE is in fact the apple in a state of suspended anti gravity

    How soon will the 60s expire and just who exactly will have to clean up Woodstock Ok you may not talk about that

    Or maybe Jobs just demands we all suffer the same collective unified perfectly wondrously beautifully manifested lovely artistic secret with a big smile saying all is just a dream from which reality springs before reality observes the dream and says wait I was not born from you you were born from me or else

    U2 put out an album called No Line On The Horizon with a cover depicting what appears to be dark in the ocean and light in the sky before going on tour with a massive stage that looks conspicuously like Deepwater Horizon the very large oil rig which blew up resulting in no functioning oil line on the Deepwater Horizon

    The words Lady GaGa can be rearranged to spell A Gag Lady or even worse

    What is the connection

    Ps

    .,.+_,,.,(†).,.??:!!'''''

  • David Prouty

    I was able to finish the blog "Creative Applications" in minutes . I just skipped everything about an iphone. If I hear anything more about ipad iphone or macs Iwillpuke. I realize portable is the now thing but real creative machines push technology and are usually bigger desktop models. Can we get back to covering creative software and the act of creation. I'm starting to think that most websites on creative stuff are just commercials for Apple. I'm a PC and create everyday I am also open-source sometimes. The old super-ball commercial was a lie and steve jobs will die someday and all that will be left is the great art of a few artists, and very few of the machines it was created on. I still have data from my Amiga on my Pc. My current machine has 9 hard-drives of info, there are six more in a raid array in my closet. You should give us articles on preserving the information we create. Write about SSD's or something. Im tired of Apple this ipad that, can we all just get over the technology and just use it?

  • Tom

    "5. Critics and proponents argue – now with the debate reframed on these issues."

    This is an abuse of power, to shape discussion into a constrained palette of thoughts. It's a kind of violence which prevents people from voicing their real needs. An overused comparison is Orwell's NewSpeak – but really it is that idea in practice.

    Look at the word 'open' and how it gets used for anything the speaker wants to promote.

    Although Jobs et al, start it, I believe that it's the online media that desperately tries for readers by encouraging battles over brands. Increased readership brings more power so they align with the powerful, avoiding complexity, cooperation etc. We _have_ to stop talking about brands. We are worth more than that.

  • Chris Thorpe

    Last time I checked, you can't install a banjo app on an acoustic guitar, or a fountain pen app on a pencil. Still great tools for making art though. As is an iPad with various music apps installed.

    I've just been to see an exhibition of art from Glassnost-era Russia. The artists were coming out of a time when practising self-expression risked being sentenced to the gulag. We on the other hand have access to fantastic technology and no secret police banging on the door when we post our opinions online. But we're kvetching cause we can't use MonoTouch to program for the iPad.

    If you want open, use PD on a Mac, PC or Linux box, or get an Arduino and build something. It's still legal!

    Meanwhile, while all the philosophising goes on, some kid is going to make some wonderful art or music on an iPad because he's too 'dumb' to know it couldn't be done.

  • http://www.blackblinds.org Paul King

    Sigh, what will it take for companies (such as Apple) to give up their aspiration to create walled gardens and other ways to lock-in all their customers.

  • http://www.themusicvoid.com Jay

    Hey, just wanted to say: great article! Love your talk about 'curator' and how the word has indeed been watered down for the music world today. Couldn't have said it better myself. You may find this music industry article highly amusing (and interesting) – http://www.themusicvoid.com/2010/04/when-commerce… Well said, don't you think?

  • chill

    Wow, I can't believe you're getting this worked up just because "curated" became a fleeting media buzzword. And why are you wasting your time reading and citing complete crap such as "Steve Jobs Offers World 'Freedom From Porn'"? Publishing private email exchanges is evidence of zero integrity. The only redeeming quality of that 'article' is that anyone wasting their time reading it can see that the author is a misguided lowlife with too much time on his hands. And here you are latching on to his erroneous reading of Job's words … Sorry, this tirade here is a real low point for CDM.

  • http://myspace.com/zeroreference zeroreference

    hi. i really enjoyed this article peter, and will have to re-read it to digest it. i'd love to write a good, full, comment, but i'm travelling right now and it all my slip between the cracks. but i'm really excited to check out that creative applications blog! also, i recently discovered the field of 'software studies' (at least a graduate program titled such), which seems to approach the curatorial idea you hinted at here (and which apple isn't doing), in that it examines software as one would examine literature or film (i think). ok. enough babbling. and none of it was even about music!

  • http://ghmetcalfe.com Graham Metcalfe

    Nice article Peter. Of course you should never start out the morning by reading the pundits and PR people. Forrester? Come on, their brilliant analysts predicted the demise of "beleaguered" Apple computer for years before becoming ardent fanboys. They make their money by making a big verbal splash, not by creating anything useful or entertaining.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your points about the corruption of language. "Curated Platform"…come on! When was the last time one of these bozos actually talked to a curator? However, I feel the same about "Walled Garden" … just another pigeonhole to categorize, marginalize and dismiss a product or methodology.

  • Blob

    @ Chill

    Chill out.

    1 – Regarding the Gawker article, you are right about the fact that publishing a private email exchange is morally questionable to say the least.

    2 – But you are completing wrong about its redeeming quality – its "misguided lowlife" author did provide us another glimpse of how Jobs and his Apple mates are control freaks who have no qualms about censoring content and ultimately deciding what you can read, watch, play, or listen to. The "curated experience" will easily devolve into a creepy, 1984-esque, "daddy knows best" attitude in the near future. Which is why many people (myself included) are not jumping into the iPad bandwagon.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Thanks, folks.

    I think — including chill — the point is that just because people are saying dumb things about these issues doesn't mean the issues themselves aren't important. I think the issue with blogs or news in general can be that you emphasize the short-term, the specific, and miss the big picture. So it's worthwhile to me.

  • Blob

    (continued) People are obviously free to buy an iPad, but they should be completely aware of what its built-in limitations imply. This awareness is particularly important if you choose this type of closed platform for any sort of music making.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Right, but I'd hope we look at more than just platforms. It's like arguing about Ford versus Toyota, but not talking about how to drive or where you're going. That's not to say the platform discussions aren't important – certainly, the differing philosophies around development and openness matter a lot. But it can't be the *only* issue, especially as we circle into narrower and narrower views of these questions, framed increasingly by Steve Jobs' public and semi-public tirades.

  • Blob

    @ Pter Kirn & Chris Torpe

    PK – you're right, of course. Discussing isolated aspects of the issue ("Microsoft or Apple", "open or closed source", "full PC's or curated devices" "keyboards or touch screen interfaces" and so on), however important they are, might make us forget about what exactly do we want to do with these new technologies.

    the question, at the end of this post – "What does freedom mean" – I certainly have to reflect on a more thorough answer, but a few comments ago, Chris Thorpe's "kid with an iPad" example points to an interesting direction. Limited or specific tools don't necessarily mean you should stop creating. They're just tools. If you're aware of their capabilities as well as their limitations, they shouldn't deter your creative impulses or your freedom to communicate with other artists and your audience.

  • Axel

    This is just the content industry hoping the iPad with its iTunes lock will save their butts. So they employ their pr(opaganda) folk to write all kinds of lofty nonsense to make you believe the iThingies' restrictions were for your own good. They abuse language, they lie. What else would you expect from marketing people?! (Excuse my cynicism)

    There's no bittorrent client for the iPhone. The New York Times can tell their shareholders they're making real money online. That's what this is all about. Nothing else.

  • chill

    Blob, fair enough; my point is that I have come to expect higher standards from CDM, including in selection of links. Everybody already knows about Apple's App Store Big Bro censorship model. Linking to an unscrupulous blog post where Jobs's words are misconstrued was really not necessary here, and I found it offensive, and an unsavory association for CDM. Peter's an excellent writer, and this is a great resource – I'd like to see CDM kept a cut above the rest; that's all.

  • HEXnibble

    @ David Prouty: "If I hear anything more about ipad iphone or macs Iwillpuke. I realize portable is the now thing but real creative machines push technology and are usually bigger desktop models. Can we get back to covering creative software and the act of creation."

    It seems like you're in denial over the fact that millions of people are engaged in the act of creation with creative software on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. And there's a constant stream of info as more and more apps for creating content are being released, and that's why they're being covered here and elsewhere. But then again, you're one of those people who believe that "real creative machines" can only be "bigger desktop models" so maybe I shouldn't waste my time.

  • Graham

    another nicely written piece peter – you're a great writer regardless if whether i agree with your POV or not… have you ever got together with simon reynolds? i think you guys would definitely hit it off and he's in NYC too, i believe…

  • Damon

    I think this article is cleanly within the expected confines of the createdigitalmusic premise. When I saw this article, I did not once think I was reading a proverbial car review in a proverbial food magazine. I thinks words like curate and freedom have something intrinsic to say about music technology, or not. But how do we know unless we talk or don't talk about it? I think the iPad is a hot topic everywhere and is becoming a new medium by which people create digital music, as well software, and therefore warrants not just an extended thread but an ongoing dialogue. Maybe I might get sick of iPad chat, but that does not mean there is not more to be said about the iPad.

  • Tom

    The whole debate of pc vs mac, etc. reminds me of my first year in university(now I'm in my 3rd)of how the scope of my vision was just "f macs". Ironically now I own one, but I switched over because of the functionality and as a tool it's more useful to me. Being in computing science I use terminal a lot. Of course I could use linux, which is where I started using it, but I wanted to create music. Clearly though you can do a lot with linux as seen on this blog. But I guess what I'm getting at is that it isn't always the tools that matter, but the person behind them(Pretty cliche I know). Technology should be seen as an extension to our abilities, not a hindrance.

    But as a side note, it's kind of interesting that apple hasn't even talked about porting logic to the ipad. But I suppose it's early days. But they would have to make so many exceptions in their iPhilosiphies to accommodate it, which is why it'll probably stay shelved.

  • leMel

    Well, curated walled-garden or not, Apple is going to win this race for two reasons: deals with content providers and beautifully designed hardware. The content deals were hard-won, and come at a (continuing) price, to be sure. But the hardware? Anyone could have done it. Microsoft had a 7 year head-start on both tablet and mobile os…how could they blow that? No one had the guts to go for it and face the hard constraints, and the harsh criticism of those constraints is part of the blowback.

    Their way of doing things does represent a closed control, but this is the business of content. I'm using Windows and Android, and look forward to Android and Chrome OS devices, but honestly I think Apple deserves to be on top right now.

    And let's have some perspective: no one's whole life is getting "permanently locked in" to Apple. Google apps – as much as I love em – are far more homogenous and dangerous on that tip.

  • Gavin@FAW

    Unless you live under a stone you are constantly bombarded with people trying to get you to use their products, download their software, buy an update, install their operating system, upgrade to their phone…the list goes on. There is certain amount of freedom gained by just saying "I've had enough and I choose Apple" and then switching off and moving on to some other aspect of their life. This is what is happening at the moment and I don't think people are actually all the bothered by being locked in, they are just happy with their new iPhones, Macbooks, iPads…

  • Low Resolution Sunse

    The iPad is marketed as a device that is for 'creative people who do a lot of fun activities' like riding scooters and 'chilling out at the library' but don't really 'get' computers. It's a lifestyle accessory for people who basically require a heavily mediated consumer experience with a relatively narrow range of choices, but also want to buy into the 'super creative Apple user' mystique.

    Which leaves the tech-literate creatives somewhat disappointed that such an elegant device with so much potential trades heavily on our collective cachet while leaving us out in the cold. With a bunch of dumb apps.

  • HEXnibble

    @ Low Resolution Sunset: "With a bunch of dumb apps."?

    Go ahead and believe that apps like TouchOSC, LiveControl, iElectribe, Jasuto, ReBirth…etc. are "dumb". The potential lies more in the creativity and imagination of the user.

  • Low Resolution Sunse

    @ HEXnibble:

    Okay, busted. I deserve that for not being more clear. What I should have said was this: the iPad has a clear and proven ability to make sophisticated music, but Apple doesn't really seem to take us (digital musicians) very seriously when it comes to approving apps. Instead, it appears that bull****ware and apps for what Axel calls the "content industry" seems to be on the fast track for approval.

  • Eric

    what morons are calling themselves curators for putting on a party?

    are people that starved for attention that they need to call even more importance to their boring little lives?

    from now on i will be a doctor of the internet because i performed surgery on my cable connection. i had to unplug and replace a cable. i am now a doctor of internet. deal with it.

    fantastic article by the way.

    oh and robb, the day people stop walling their customers in is the day they no longer care about making money off the back of tried and true business models. i'm not saying that's a good thing at all and i wish more companies would go open source and encourage dialogue with their customer base but apple isn't open to anything that question their ideas. if you want to play with apple you have to shut your yap and bend over.

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