My co-author Nathan Jurgenson and I submitted a paper to First Monday assessing the potential impact of the iPad. We co-wrote this article after being similarly startled by the turn to the old ways of consumption that the iPad seemed to represent. (We had both independently blogged about this days after the original the launch in January). I’ve noticed that other commentators have made similar points and there seems to be a growing debate about what this means for the future of the Internet.
I’m posting our abstract below*. If you would like a copy of the full paper, drop me a line at zeynep at umbc.edu.
The iPad: The “Jesus Tablet” and the Resurrection of Consumer Society
Apple’s much-discussed iPad fits squarely within the logic of consumer society and is directly opposed to the logic of the participatory Web, or Web 2.0, and the logic of prosumption, whereby users produce that which they consume. Instead of prosumer society’s focus on active participation, diminishing corporate control and a trend towards free products and services, the iPad channels passive consumption, corporate control via “closed” systems and a renewed focus on traditional, top-down “paid” media. The iPad is engineered to enforce this passivity, for example through lack of a tactile keyboard, and facilitates it most fundamentally by way of spectacle, in the sense of theorists of consumer society like Baudrillard, DeBord and Ritzer. The iPad is indicative of Apple’s Disneyfied approach which attempts to create a “walled garden” that seeks to enchant while monetizing more and more of the interactions within the system.
* Since First Monday is single-blind this does not violate peer review.