[FoRK] Betting on the iPad

Aaron Burt aaron at bavariati.org
Tue Feb 9 11:14:27 PST 2010

On Sun, Feb 07, 2010 at 09:59:52AM -0800, Lucas Gonze wrote:
> Aaron, are you stepping up to speak for conventional wisdom among
> techies?  Sure there's wisdom in conventional wisdom?

Speaking mainly for mah cynical sailf.

> Form factor is a subtle and important part of comp sci.

Form factor is critical to physical and UX design, certainly.
But to comp sci?  I'm missing something.

> A netbook without a keyboard is not a lesser desktop, it is a new type of
> thing with new strengths.

The same could be said of *any* design variation.  This particular one has
been tried many, many times.  Good on them if they make it work.

> It's a profound development in the computer industry that the
> morphology of this object has so much in common with smart phones,
> maybe more than it does with desktops, and yet is competitive with
> desktops for many purposes.

Remember where the Symbian phone OS came from?  Or, for that matter, where
the iPhone OS came from?  Or Windows Mobile?

> The desktop, including both monitor and keyboard, has defined our
> conception of computers.

It's not so much the form factor as the tasks that determine how we
interact with computers.  The industrial and military worlds are very

> Laptops without keyboards are a significant step.  The next step is to
> lose monitors.  I wonder what that will be like?  What if the device
> was voice controlled and had a speaker output?  (But also a full scale
> web browser and connectivity).

Why... then you'd have a standard wearable.  Or a modern Gphone.  Give it
time and context-awareness and you'd have something impressive, but until
we have a paradigm shift in how computers facilitate human interaction and
labour, non-visual computers will live in the niches.

For more information about that paradigm shift, consult your local sci-fi, 
from Star Trek to Charlie Stross.

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