Tethering the iPad, in Perspective

“I am from the future. I bring you grave news. Humanity lies at a crossroads. Alas, in my time people did not choose wisely. We let our differences drive us apart, we neglected science and technology, and we lost far too many to war and plague before we realised the errors of our ways. I bring you hope in the form of this, a hand-held mind merge device. You hold one to your forehead, I hold one to mine, and this suitcase-sized box enables you to see the world as I see it and vice-versa. It has singlehandedly stopped all wars and misunderstandings in our world, but not before many lives were lost. We wish to offer you the chance to avoid that bloodshed.”

“They connect to the suitcase-sized box?”

“Yes, it uses a quantum field sensor—“

“—with those wires?”


“Wires? I have to plug it in? FAIL! You sure you’re not from 1988 and this is a new mouse? What’s it connect with? A mini-ESP plug?! HA! Does it work offline? No, of course not. Does it only read minds or can it read blogs too? Can I hack it to read my cat’s mind?”

“Uh … there are no twenty-first-century-serviceable parts inside.”

“Did the future lose the Maker manifesto? This technology is SHIT! I can’t wait until the future open source movement fucking nails your greedy ass to the wall. I’m going to toss my mind merger, and recommend that all our governments do the same. It’s wrong for us to have future lock-in! This is a pretty but non-generative technological dead-end, and I can’t wait to see whether it will blend!”

“I’m beginning to think not all of that bloodshed was unnecessary.”

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  • Mark Murphy

    I had no idea that the Almighty wrote for O’Reilly Radar. For starters, I expected you to look more like George Burns.

    I realize that my transgressions are unforgivable, but allow me to explain. After all, there’s nothing more you can do to me than what you probably already have scheduled.

    I am a mere mortal. How was I to know that the iPad was going to cure breast cancer, or end world hunger, or act as the world’s biggest HEPA filter to screen out volcanic ash, or whatever wondrous benefit that you see in its future?

    I, like other mortals, can only guess at the future and have limited knowledge of the present. That’s how I was clued into your Almightiness — only an omniscient and omnipotent being could know the iPad’s future and know that comparing the iPad to a device that ends “all wars and misunderstandings” is a valid comparison. Hence, being the Almighty is clearly your “perspective”.

    However, I will not belabor you with an explanation for why many of us mortals long for the Apple philosophy of 1984. After all, you are omniscient, and your written perspective clearly indicates that, no matter what we may think justifies not getting an iPad, we are in the wrong and will be condemned to a fiery eternity for our sins.

    I find it curious that the Almighty would choose to deliver His word in O’Reilly Radar, since there are locations with more traffic. But, they say the Almighty works in mysterious ways. Regardless, I can only hope that your message of enlightenment reaches as many people as possible, and that the iPad becomes central to a world religion, worshiping you, of course. I have to assume that, since you chose to reveal your divinity on this topic, that it is your wish that as many people as possible obtain and use iPads, so that they may partake of the fruits of your son’s labor and bring about this glorious yet Apple-sanctioned future that you foresee.

    BTW, I sincerely hope that Mr. Jobs is actually only Coming 1.5, since Armageddon is on tap for Coming 2.0, and I really would have liked to have replaced my kitchen countertop before then.

  • Reilly Hayes

    The problem with satire and hyperbole is that those expecting mere metaphor are sometimes befuddled. There is something in here for everyone, although I suspect the more personal stings will blind many to the equal opportunity nature of the piece.

    I am frequently puzzled by the application of ideology (especially to technology). There are many virtues, of which seamless perfection and hack-ability are just two. You can’t have them all and surely it is a matter of personal preference how you balance them.


  • Matt

    Ridiculing hyperbole with hyperbole doesn’t make you look mature or thoughtful at all. It’s not that hard to write an decent rebuttal without resorting to juvenile mocking. I hate to see crap like this on a site that normally offers some critical thought on these issues.

  • Reilly Hayes


    I concur. I LIKE what Nat said and how he said it. But it’s also clear that the breadth of the satire was lost on Mark Murphy. In fact, this is a farce that lampoons the fan-boys as well as the makers and elements of the open-source community.

    One strength, and weakness, of farce is that we tend to focus on the aspects that touch closest to home. So everybody comes away feeling that they’ve been singled out.


  • Michael R. Bernstein

    Nat, I’m goping to abstain from meta commentary, and instead offer this one word review of your post:


  • Michael R. Bernstein

    That said, this piece reminds me somewhat of the short story “They’re made out of meat” by Terry Bisson.

  • bobdc

    When it comes to silly hyperbole, and “aren’t those people petty and stupid because they just don’t get it, like I do”, I really don’t see how Nat’s posting was much different from Mark’s response.

  • Ken Williams


  • Ken Williams

    At the first all-class assembly of my college career, a wise professor (Ritchie Schuldenfrei) gave a lecture on “how *not* to get the most out of your college experience.” The key is to pick one lens, one filter, through which to see all issues.

    That drunk-driver reduction initiative will save 20 young lives in the state this year but does nothing to curb carbon emissions? It’s crap, block it. We can improve science education for all kids by 30%, but it won’t improve access to arts education at all? It’s shit. Put it on the barbie & burn it.

  • bowerbird

    if you “lose” that machine on the floor in a bar in redwood city,
    a tech blog just might cover the story in a sensational manner…

    it’s worth a try. sincerely, bloodshedding is highly overrated…