Saturday, July 07, 2007

The iPhone's True Significance

Amidst all the fuss, nobody seems to have noticed the one really interesting thing about Apple's iPhone. All other phones HAVE screens. But the iPhone IS a screen. Apple went some way down this road with the iMac; they hid all the workings of the computer behind the screen. The screen and the computer became, at least in appearance, one. The iPhone takes this further. The screen is the control panel. Other companies have done something similar, but Apple's influence is such that their products have an imaginative as well as a technical impact. The iPhone is, in effect, nothing other than a screen. All the new gizmos currently being studied by geeks in their malodorous bedrooms pale into insignificance beside this. It points to a future that is nothing more than a screen behind which there is nothing and nobody. 

8 comments:

  1. It points to a future that is nothing more than a screen behind which there is nothing and nobody.

    In that event, There is no there there will acquire new meaning. The Chamber of Commerce of Oakland, California will be happy.

    All other phones HAVE screens. But the iPhone IS a screen.

    Yes, it is. Pity about the phone part, though. Reception is reportedly quite spotty. Makes Then again, what do the residents of backwater locales like Washington, D.C. expect?

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  2. it points to a present in which the media that deliver information has become subtly more important than the information, so that famous people are famous because they're famous. It's not the person, it's the fact that they've passed through the lens. If the idea is true, that having your photo taken means you lose your soul, then to be famous & successful in this culture, you just need to be without a soul.

    Watching people at bus stops fiddling with their phones, i wonder what's so exciting & important, but i suspect 9 times out of 10 it's a txt saying "oi whr r u?" or suchlike.

    Maybe having one's ordinary life passed through a phone or camera or whatever gives it a halo, by putting it within a frame. This really is a culture of 'frames', of wanting to make real things into representations (against Plato). Maybe that's the thing about these expensive phones, that having "ur late 4 t" arrive on a iphone somehow makes the ordinary business of tea into a work of art, or at least into something within a frame.

    Now if we had proper Roman Catholic confession we wouldn't need any of this.

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  3. I used to work for Motorola and the big difference between a product like the Motorola Razr and the iPhone is that the people who designed the iPhone were permitted, in fact encouraged, to be revolutionary in their design. Even the ROKR, the first combination of phone and iPod, was mediocre at best at either jobs. The problem is that too many companies are dedicated to producing numbers for this quarter and what happens in the long run is irrelevant. But Apple wanted to make something truly unique and were willing to spend the time to do just that.

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  4. 'It points to a future that is nothing more than a screen behind which there is nothing and nobody.'

    You know, I reckon medieval monks said the same type of thing about the printing press - a future that is nothing more than a printed page behind which there is nothing and nobody. Perhaps Bryan ought to bob off with John Gray and live an Osama-like existence, bemoaning the deluded others who enjoy i-phones and the like. I'm with Rosalind who I think said something along the lines of I would have a fool to make me merry than a wise man to make me sad.

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  5. You misunderstand, Michael, I'm all for the iPhone. I shall get one at the first opportunity.

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  6. "I'm with Rosalind who I think said something along the lines of I would have a fool to make me merry than a wise man to make me sad."

    I think I fall into the group who prefers the company of wise men even if they do make me want to jump off a bridge.

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