Hype, Hate and Hope

Yesterday was great.

Sure, Apple launched a product that may or may not be great. It might or might not be an awesome gaming platform. It's either really expensive or super cheap. It's either the next big thing or the Apple Newton all over again. But the thing itself isn't what was great, it was (and remains) the experience of its announcement.

I admit it, I stopped everything and jumped onto a live stream of the iPad announcement. I did it mostly for the same reason I watch the Super Bowl when my team isn't playing: because I buy into the hype.

It's not hype over the specific object, it's the hype for the sake of hype. I enjoy the feeling of being caught up in a crowd. I like being in a room that is being effectively worked by a pro -- and lets face it, Steve Jobs is a pro. I like suspending my disbelief and my skepticism just for a while, to imagine that anything is possible.

This is really the Apple product -- hope. In magic Apple unicorn land, everything just works, everything you ever wanted is already in the box, and every object in your life is a totem, invoking the animal spirits of technology and efficiency and beauty.

I know that's not the real world, just like I knew that Obama wouldn't magically transform the country in a few months, and that riding my bicycle up the local mountain is not the same as riding the Tour de France. But I choose to live a life focused on possibilities and hope and be regularly disappointed rather than live a life of constant skepticism and be occasionally and begrudgingly surprised.

Perhaps the most astounding thing about yesterday's circus of hype and hope was how quickly the sharks circled the drops of blood in the water. This shouldn't be a surprise at this point, there's hardly a tech gizmo or game launch that doesn't drag hate out from the woodwork. I imagine that there's an old school BBS run out of a server farm in Duluth where haters get together and practice their barbs, so that a coordinated campaign of ridicule can sweep the web.

This thing Apple has made will be what it is. I'm not going to defend its virtues or attack its failings. I am, however, thankful for yesterday's Hallmark Moment. Like midnight game releases, opening nights, and Christmas mornings, these hypeful, hopeful events bring color to the gray New England winter, and the long slow grind of adulthood.

Comments

I knew going into this that an apple tablet was an uninspired concept. Can we move on as a people now? Yes, Steve Jobs invented a machine that stretches iPhones.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

I tell you, I wish my business had 1/25th of his marketing ability.

So does every business everywhere.

Burnt Toast wrote:

I think criticisms of the iPod as a hardware platform have traditionally been pretty much on the mark. Until VERY recently it lacked what many would consider important things like wireless connectivity, radio receiver, built-in speaker, and others.

Who are the many? I ask only because they must be people other than the 200M or so who have an iPod. Criticisms of the iPod as a hardware platform are really only valid if it's being put forth as a hardware platform; and obviously those criticisms weren't felt widely enough to prevent the landslide of approval.

dhaelis wrote:
adam.greenbrier wrote:
rabbit wrote:

But I choose to live a life focused on possibilities and hope and be regularly disappointed rather than live a life of constant skepticism and be occasionally and begrudgingly surprised.

That's a beautiful phrase, rabbit. I want to be more like that.

Agreed: I may borrow that phrase in the near future, possibly to make inspirational posters out of it or something. ;)

Hmm... T-Shirts? : )

This post by Alex Payne (one the lead engineers at Twitter) captures a lot of my own uneasiness and ambivalence on the iPad and Apple's increasingly closed approach to it products. As someone who creates software, this attitude bothers me. It is one of the main reasons I got rid of my iPhone and probably will not buy a new Macbook when my current one reaches the end of it's life. As a developer, I love the possibilities their hardware promises but the lack of ability to do what i want with the device is discouraging and not something I want to support with my wallet.

Count Elmdor wrote:

Now how many of you Americans watched the State of the Union address last night? Yeah, me neither.

Don't be too smug. Some of us were still at work.

benu302000 wrote:

I knew going into this that an apple tablet was an uninspired concept. Can we move on as a people now? Yes, Steve Jobs invented a machine that stretches iPhones.

Or just glues them together (possibly NSFW).

Chumpy_McChump wrote:
Burnt Toast wrote:

I think criticisms of the iPod as a hardware platform have traditionally been pretty much on the mark. Until VERY recently it lacked what many would consider important things like wireless connectivity, radio receiver, built-in speaker, and others.

Who are the many? I ask only because they must be people other than the 200M or so who have an iPod. Criticisms of the iPod as a hardware platform are really only valid if it's being put forth as a hardware platform; and obviously those criticisms weren't felt widely enough to prevent the landslide of approval.

Okay, got me. "Many" is a relative term. Back at early launch there were criticisms on sites like Kotaku & CNET, and of course some forums.

There was also whining by non-Apple businesses that by locking the iPod to iTunes (and songs bought through iTunes) Apple was being unfair and limiting customer choice. I fully agree that sounded like sour grapes.

Despite the "limitations" of software choice, initial hard-drive problems preventing safe jogging, poor battery life, the product did absolutely take over. I was a complete hold-out myself until I received a 1st-gen shuffle for a gift. I still hate that it had no display and was tied to iTunes - but I played the living bejeezus out of that thing when I discovered podcasts. To this day I can't find a better player than some kind of iPod for what I want (but maybe Zune-HD?).

I generally dislike Apple for their smarmy attitude, ridiculous lack of support for software more than a year old, tendancy to say "just buy this new thing" whenever something fails or falls short rather than making it better or repairing, and so on. I am biased, but there's no questioning their:

- attention to aesthetics
- FANTASTIC marketing
- great performance in _some_ areas (esp. visual design, publishing - high-end art dept. stuff)

They do NOT make the holy grail of everything, and it drives me around the bend when fanboys act that way (not you or anyone here - just some bad personal experiences). And I have had some experience - I used a Mac Classic through my first 2 years in grad school, and hated it. My wife is still all Apple (and it drives me bonkers).

/rant

Yes, despite its problems the iPod remains, overall, the most popular of its kind.

Just to get back on topic - I simply don't see the iPad as adding a lot more to the world of portable computing given its current limits. A niche product for now. Maybe I need to play with one to change my mind.

AcidCat wrote:

Honestly I had a more negative view of the whole "event" mode that surrounded this announcement. How much free advertising did they get, every news site and TV show had to say something about the new gadget. And that's all it is, a new gadget for affluent Americans to waste money on. But it's Big News, right? The new Must-Have Status Symbol? In many ways this whole IPad circus represents the worst of our culture.

I couldn't have said it any better mate.

gore wrote:
mikeohara wrote:

I would have been in the market for an iPad IF they would have gone the proper tablet PC route and also put a version of Office on it. But since I'm going back to college in the fall to either study to be a network admin or a code monkey (database and general programming), this will not fit my needs. I'll buy a mid-level Macbook Pro instead for my courses.

Perhaps Google Documents would meet your requirements? I must confess to not knowing what the "kids these days" are using in college, but Google Docs does virtually everything I need.

(I'm not trying to forgive the iPad's "walled garden" sins, just mentioning a potential workaround for them)

I'll keep Google Docs in mind when I start classes. I haven't chosen a college yet to attend (they both have my admission application though), but I find it easier to use Office and with the Macbooks, I do have the option of preinstalling Office 2008 on them, so it arrives ready for me to use.

Apple's product is hope?

Good god, man. You've been drinking too much of Apple's cool-aid. Just step back a second. You wrote an article in which you compared the introduction of a new Apple product with the election of a president. Really. Please. Step away from the iPhone.

Faceless Clock wrote:

Apple's product is hope?

Good god, man. You've been drinking too much of Apple's cool-aid. Just step back a second. You wrote an article in which you compared the introduction of a new Apple product with the election of a president. Really. Please. Step away from the iPhone.

All the jokes about his age aside, Julian stays young via an unending fount of optimism and youthful sentimentality.

wordsmythe wrote:

All the jokes about his age aside, Julian stays young via an unending fount of optimism and youthful sexuality.

Freudian? Not sure, but this is the way I read your statement before the coffee kicked in. I nodded my head thinking "Ok, I could see that" and "what the hell were they doing at Rabbitcon?"

Bullion Cube wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

All the jokes about his age aside, Julian stays young via an unending fount of optimism and youthful sexuality.

Freudian? Not sure, but this is the way I read your statement before the coffee kicked in. I nodded my head thinking "Ok, I could see that" and "what the hell were they doing at Rabbitcon?"

Sex, drugs, and plastic rock.

wordsmythe wrote:
Faceless Clock wrote:

Apple's product is hope?

Good god, man. You've been drinking too much of Apple's cool-aid. Just step back a second. You wrote an article in which you compared the introduction of a new Apple product with the election of a president. Really. Please. Step away from the iPhone.

All the jokes about his age aside, Julian stays young via an unending fount of optimism and youthful sentimentality.

And drinking the blood of the young.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
Faceless Clock wrote:

Apple's product is hope?

Good god, man. You've been drinking too much of Apple's cool-aid. Just step back a second. You wrote an article in which you compared the introduction of a new Apple product with the election of a president. Really. Please. Step away from the iPhone.

All the jokes about his age aside, Julian stays young via an unending fount of optimism and youthful sentimentality.

And drinking the blood of the young.

Of course. I mean, I thought that went without saying.

The comparison to Obama is apt; my company does some work on that side of the political fence, and when the announcements came out, everyone circled around the TV as if it were a major campaign event.

Hope can't spread very far without some hype to grease the wheels. But like rabbit I believe in Hope

Actually, yes, I do make the comparison, and very very deliberately. No, I'm not suggesting the ACT of launching some silly product is comparable to taking leadership of the US of A. I AM suggesting that HOPE, as an EMOTION, as a feeling, as a concept, and as a key componant of faith, is something that should be sought after and praised in general. I get hope from all sorts of things, some of them excruciatingly unimportant (indian summer, blue skies, my kids laughing, a really really good nap) and some of them monumental in significance (reading science journals).

rabbit wrote:

Actually, yes, I do make the comparison, and very very deliberately. No, I'm not suggesting the ACT of launching some silly product is comparable to taking leadership of the US of A. I AM suggesting that HOPE, as an EMOTION, as a feeling, as a concept, and as a key componant of faith, is something that should be sought after and praised in general. I get hope from all sorts of things, some of them excruciatingly unimportant (indian summer, blue skies, my kids laughing, a really really good nap) and some of them monumental in significance (reading science journals).

Some things are more important than we're willing to give credit for. I'd say that even if I didn't think your kids were amazing.

wordsmythe wrote:
rabbit wrote:

Actually, yes, I do make the comparison, and very very deliberately. No, I'm not suggesting the ACT of launching some silly product is comparable to taking leadership of the US of A. I AM suggesting that HOPE, as an EMOTION, as a feeling, as a concept, and as a key componant of faith, is something that should be sought after and praised in general. I get hope from all sorts of things, some of them excruciatingly unimportant (indian summer, blue skies, my kids laughing, a really really good nap) and some of them monumental in significance (reading science journals).

Some things are more important than we're willing to give credit for. I'd say that even if I didn't think your kids were amazing.

Yeah, that one struck me as being in the wrong list when I read it, too.

Grumpicus wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
rabbit wrote:

Actually, yes, I do make the comparison, and very very deliberately. No, I'm not suggesting the ACT of launching some silly product is comparable to taking leadership of the US of A. I AM suggesting that HOPE, as an EMOTION, as a feeling, as a concept, and as a key componant of faith, is something that should be sought after and praised in general. I get hope from all sorts of things, some of them excruciatingly unimportant (indian summer, blue skies, my kids laughing, a really really good nap) and some of them monumental in significance (reading science journals).

Some things are more important than we're willing to give credit for. I'd say that even if I didn't think your kids were amazing.

Yeah, that one struck me as being in the wrong list when I read it, too.

I think he was talking about importance to the greater, global community. What I find strikingly beautiful in that sentence is the existential nature of the comment. Even IF there is little or no cause of hope at that grander, human-wide level (such as a cure for a disease), there are personal moments of existence such as enjoying your kids laughter that allow your hope to blossom brightly despite the gloomy night.