April 4th, 2024

Hate reads

I should get over this particular shame: I hate-read "how I use the iPad" posts, so this roundup of recent genre examples from Michael Tsai is a veritable feast of loathing. 

The iPad is not a good replacement for a Mac or an iPhone for me, but damn it all if I didn’t enjoy having it around for some situations where neither of those devices were perfect. It’s cliche, but the iPad was the G.O.A.T. for doing stuff on the couch.

... and ...

Yet, the iPad still feels like it’s finding a place as far as work and productivity goes. So which is it? Is it an indispensable tool or is it a toy?

... and on and on.

We have been doing some variation of this for [checks notes] 5,180 days.

The first link in the roundup does the very impressive work of wondering if they can replace the iPad with a Vision Pro. It feels wildly unfair to iPads, given that over 14 years since they were first launched, we're all still writing thousands and thousands of words about where they fit in. It suggests that perhaps where the iPad fits in is "on the list of things I don't really need," which makes it eminently  replaceable by a Vision Pro.

Anyhow, where I think they fit in is that they're a luxury good in a culture that has an uneasy relationship with luxury goods.

It's not that we don't have or want luxury goods, but we think about our democratic values only fitfully and tangentially. And we want to believe that we're headed in the right direction ... that the arc of justice is bending up and to the right, the rising tide continues to lift all the boats, the trickle remains down as opposed to the geyser gushing up.

When people get this particular luxury they often need to redeem it with some comment on its fitness for work, or the uniqueness of their productive needs. There's this hint of a quiet consensus that just wanting it would be sort of gauche or crass.

That's the thing that makes the iPad something other than just some other luxury good, because there are all kinds of consumer electronics and I don't see nearly as much time spent justifying, considering, explaining, rationalizing, and pondering  them. People just have television sets. People just have video game consoles.  People just have stereo systems. People just have Bluetooth earbuds.

In the tech blogging world,  a vanishingly small minority seems to  just have an iPad. It must be explained.

(4/4: Edited for clarity, conciseness, and slightly less snottiness -mph)