Danny’s “jet plane emotions” on the iPad

My deputy-nemesis Danny O’Brien on the iPad, openness, and hacking stuff:

“It’s easy to see the iPad as the final tragedy in a long history of openness and tinkerability in general purpose computing. But the truth is, the cyclical fight against locked-in systems has been the recurring theme of computing since the mainframes. Our open systems are as wonderful as they are because they had to set themselves up against the shiny proprietary wonders of a previous age. The iPad isn’t a threat; it’s an inspiration. They’re always trying to steal the revolution; we always have to steal it back.”

This is the point that lots of people miss. Yes, the iPad (and iPhone) is a pretty closed system as it goes. Yes, it’s not open. But perhaps without the “shiny proprietary wonders” there wouldn’t be much inspiration for open systems to improve for real people.

The challenge for those in favour of open systems shouldn’t be what Apple is doing: It should be doing better than Apple.