Why the iPad is Killing Creativity

Posted 6 years ago by Adam Gautsch


A couple of weeks ago I did a Pecha Kucha on why the iPad is killing creativity. For those unfamiliar with Pecha Kucha, it is forced metronomic public speaking. Exactly 20 slides for exactly 20 seconds. It's a fun and nerve-racking experience that I suggest everyone to give a try.

For those unfamiliar with why the iPad is killing creativity give the presentation a watch.

14 Comments

Lisa ~ 6 years ago

Just posted this on Reddit. Wonder how fast it will get to the front page? Loved your presentation at Pecha Kucha!

Jeff ~ 6 years ago

So is your point "If it's not Flash, it's not creative?" I wouldn't know, because I don't run Flash on my non-iPad computer, and your "website" is nothing but a bunch of empty boxes...

Evan Tishuk ~ 6 years ago

Whoa, struck a nerve there?

I believe you're referring to SIFR, which admittedly is not perfect--mostly because of the hassle it creates for the person building the site. And, to a lesser degree, for the rancor it elicits from some people who hate Flash from depths of their souls. But it should still fail gracefully, so I am surprised you don't see any fall-back text. If you review some of our work I think you'll find that we avoid Flash except when it is the the right tool for the job. And at the time this site was built, it was. As luck would have it, we're @font-facing this "website" as I type.

Greenvillian ~ 6 years ago

So far, the only thing on this website that I see as flash is the videos, and those are vimeo. If you had looked at the page source for this site you would have been able to see that. Why so harsh Jeff? If you had watched the video you would have understood his point. Bummer.

Kevin Dees ~ 6 years ago

Great presentation Adam. Very insightful and very true.

Jeff ~ 6 years ago

Evan,

The SIFR boxes show up for me as Flash objects (in Chrome and Safari); they do say "Text Replacement," in the boxes in Safari, but no, they are not degrading gracefully on either browser. The Vimeo embedded video is also a Flash object.

Greenvillian,

The point he made (lifted pretty much whole from Cory Doctorow) is that the iPad is bad because you can't rip the back off and piddle around. In the same way that, back in the halcyon days when he built his first computer, he couldn't rip the chips of the boards and piddle around. The creativity is not gone, it's just moved to the creativity of writing software, in the same way that the creativity of hooking together bare NAND gates had moved to piecing together (very often proprietary) populated boards. And here we're talking about the product line from a single vendor: trust me, there are still plenty of other products with the bad UIs and imperfect systems he laments.

"I can't be creative in the exact same way I was twenty years ago" is not a very creative viewpoint, I think.

Evan Tishuk ~ 6 years ago

@Jeff:

I can't help but detect a strong waft of piss and vinegar coming from your words. Here, Have a Coke and smile.

Thanks for the heads-up on the poorly functioning SIFR.

I think you might be missing the fact that Adam employs the iPad as a convenient and tangible symbol that hints at a larger observation about the relationship between humans, technology and creativity.

Adam Gautsch ~ 6 years ago

Jeff,

To your point of the use of Flash on the OrangeCoat website all I can say is we use sIFR for headlines and Flash video players such as YouTube and Vimeo for video. If these things hurt your experience I'm sorry. This blog isn't for everyone and if you require a no Flash site, this blog isn't for you.

On your response to my grander points in the presentation,
1.) The Cory Doctorow dig. I imagine Cory could care less if I used an entire blog post or book of his word for word, but that being said I didn't. As you so politely point out, none of my points are ground breaking points. They've been used before by different people and none of the ideas are some patented magic formula. As with all of human knowledge it's based off my experiences of living and working in technology, reading and caring about things like creativity and innovation, and arguing over beers with friends. I read the Doctorow piece on why he didn't buy an iPad, but it is no more or less important to my presentation than my countless conversations with friends on the subject or my time working at OrangeCoat that allowed me fully understand what open source technologies can do. Which brings me to the second topic.

2.) Your summary of my thesis being "I can't be creative in the exact same way I was twenty years ago". That seems to be a bit off too. It seems like you're taking an example story I used and making that the entire point of the presentation. I would hope most people would take away the broader idea that a curious mind in an open environment is the key to sustainable creativity. Yes, there is an ability to be creative inside of closed system and yes sometimes closed system force extra creativity but over the long haul a society should be open in all aspects of its existence. From being able to tinker with the machines to being able to write code without a big brother approval process to the free sharing of ideas.

That was kinda of the point of the whole speech. To take away "I can't be creative in the exact same way I was twenty years ago" as my major thesis would be similar to saying wearing rings is bad is the major thesis to Lord of the Rings.*

* Not to compare my speech to the Lord of the Rings. It's just the best I could think of since the iPad killed my creativity.

Jeff ~ 6 years ago

Adam,

I can view Flash content if I want to, my point (which has been taken as a sign of hostility) was in the irony of blaming the iPad for the death of creativity when your own site displayed visible shortcomings from choosing a closed technology.

I still don't agree with your basic premise faulting the iPad (as a device or as an example) for a decline in creativity... and I don't feel that anyone has acknowledged my point that the iPad opens opportunity for tremendous creativity, simply in a different technical realm than the specific creativity you mentioned. Indeed, if we're abstracting "iPad" to "example" status, as an example of the next wave of personal connectivity devices, the iPad promises to open the cloud to a whole new class of users who never wanted to know (and won't need to know) what the cloud even is, and use it in ways we're just beginning to discover.

In other words, I see the iPad as an incredibly fertile ground for creativity. Moreover, the tone and content of the video seemed not intended to spark debate on the larger topic, but to marginalize a specific product with specious reasoning. If your intention was truly to generate discussion about the legal and fiscal realities that govern commercially available IT products, I feel you did your larger argument (as well as the iPad) a huge disservice.

Evan Tishuk ~ 6 years ago

and I don't feel that anyone has acknowledged my point that the iPad opens opportunity for tremendous creativity, simply in a different technical realm than the specific creativity you mentioned.

What's to address? You can say that about almost anything. The Slap-Chop opens opportunity for tremendous creativity in food preparation. Instead of being stuck in the old world of regular knives, you can get really creative with your culinary dicing as long as the food fits into a 3-inch diameter circle.

Printing presses opened up opportunity for tremendous creativity too. Though it wasn't until fairly recently that we could bypass the publishing gatekeepers to do things like blogging. I think you could argue, quite successfully, that the present freedoms the internet provides are a vast improvement over the older models of publishing information. Perhaps a bit messier. Apple appears to be using their market clout, cult-like status, and shiny gadgetry to take a step back and lock down the printing presses, so to speak.

Adam Gautsch ~ 6 years ago

"the iPad promises to open the cloud to a whole new class of users who never wanted to know (and won't need to know) what the cloud even is, and use it in ways we're just beginning to discover."

Who are these users?
People who can't afford a computer? No, that's not right. iPads are as expensive if not more expensive than computers?

People who are not exactly computer literate now or are in some way scared of technology?
I can't imagine that's your point. It just doesn't make any sense. But it does kinda sound like that is who you're talking about. If you're saying iPads are important because those ignorant of technology are going to be able to use it then I can't buy that. Those people are consumers. My belief is the builder and engineer are the more important person the creative process.

So maybe you're saying programmers who can use the iPad to unlock the powers of a small, touch screen device are the important ones?
I imagine this is who you are talking about and, as I say in my speech, I'm not against the tablet device as a concept. But, I will not lift up a device that forces all software written to go through an Apple approved vetting process as the next coming of creativity and innovation.

That's not creativity. That's communism.

Lisa ~ 6 years ago

I really hope Jeff did link to this from Reddit. I only left it up for 5 mins and then deleted it out of fear of this sort of thing! Such a shame, I really enjoyed this presentation and wanted to spread the joy around a little.

Evan and Adam, your responses have further my enjoyment of this blog. " It's just the best I could think of since the iPad killed my creativity." - ah, how I giggled.

Adam Gautsch ~ 6 years ago

Don't worry about it. It's all in good fun. No real anger to Jeff. He brought back the old days the OrangeYeti blog where Evan and I huff and puffed all day long.

daniel ~ 6 years ago

you are all misunderstanding creativity.

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