05.10.2010 01:00 AM

The Age of Enlightenment meets the iPad. Or, is the iPad.

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter,” he told the students. “And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

Not sure I agree with the fellow who said that – and that’s significant, because I pretty much agree with him on everything – but he has a point, at least in respect of the blogosweird. When unashamed racists are treated like informed analysts by broadcasters – using your tax dollars, no less – then it is certainly inarguable that “truth” has become so relative that it lacks all meaning.

But Obama is wrong, I think, about the iPad – and plenty of you have written to me to ask me if you should buy one, and I have said yes in every instance – because it isn’t merely about entertainment, or because it’s a diversion.  Since getting it, I am reading way more fiction (via iBook and Kindle) than I have read in years.  I am staying up to all hours, downloading free public-realm classic literature with wild abandon.  I can read newspapers in the way they are supposed to be read, and advertising can be offered thereupon in a way that isn’t irritating (check out the New York Times app to see what I mean).  And my kids are fighting to read on it, all the time, because it is so easy to use and so much fun.  The iPad makes – or will make – learning easier.

Do people download shooting games and stuff like that on it?  Sure, you can do that.  But you can do that on the Presidential Blackberry, too, but I can’t recall seeing him flinging it into the Potomac, either.

When it finally makes its way into The Great White North, you’ll see: the iPad ain’t no Xbox.  It’s amazing, and it’s going to change the way we do a lot of things – good things.

6 Comments

  1. Catherine says:

    Obama refers to the ‘truth meter.’

    That might be the mettle in his argument.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    What does he mean by ‘the truth meter’?

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Never mind, I just re-read; with coffee.

    I love the fact that I can find any kind of anything on the internet – I’ve just been looking through illustrations by John Bauer, of Swedish fairy tales (definitely the inspiration for Where the Wild Things Are – and in one or 2 cases, exactly the same); and I know I’d never have gone looking for it without the internet. I spend too much time on the internet – and I think it’s wonderful that I can go and find anything I want to. Every now and then I go into Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page (first producer of e-books), and yes, have to say that it’s going to make more information available to more people, and you really can’t control what kind of information; that’s going to be like a force of nature.

    I saw some demo pads in Chapters the other day, but didn’t stop to try them out – I passed them to buy more books. I am attached to books, but they’re taking up a lot of room, so maybe this is a good solution.

    It’s incredible that someone as trashy as K. Shaidle is taken seriously. In my mom’s day, she’d have been called a fishwife.

  4. allegra fortissima says:

    It’s a matter of preference and choice. But can you really read whatever you want on an iPad? No. Steve and friends determine what you can read and what you will read. Censorship. The Stern Magazine has already been kicked out once (no, not because of the infamous Hitler Diaries), more will most likely follow… There are some interesting articles about the iKult on Spiegel Online (English translation is being provided).
    Enlightenment? Chretien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malherbes – stand with us!

    Anyone wants to go book-shopping with me this afternoon?

  5. Brian says:

    I agree with his general disgust at the Decline of Actual Thought in Our Civilization.

    However, I also think it’d be really cool to see President Barry throwing his Blackberry into the Potomac.

    If you throw them right, they skip on the water once or twice, like a stone. It’s very liberating!

  6. Completely agree with you, Warren. It’s been Instant Love(TM) since I fondled one at the Apple Store down here in BIrmingham, AL (ex-pat Canuck, away for a few years).
    I’m in the middle of retooling after 20 years in graphic design for print – and aim to be developing my first apps for this device within a year’s time. It’s design is well thought
    through, in a way that makes it a perfect thing – utterly adaptable to your desired purpose.

    My husband and I are only holding off in getting a couple until the next edition with a larger screen display comes out – as this is the drawing tablet for which I’ve waited 20 years (since the first wacoms)

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