I have to admit that I found Cory Doctorow’s anti-iPad post at Boing Boing quite bizarre and techno-elitist. He seems to dislike both how easy the iPad is to use as well how efficiently it’s physical parts are put together (glue as opposed to screws).
His argument that the iPad is “Infantalizing [sic] hardware” is particularly short-sighted. I view the iPad as a sort of satellite of my main workstation. With such a device, good user interface design should free the user from the sort of things that make a full blown computer more cumbersome, albeit more powerful. When you’re relaxing on the couch with a cup of coffee, or on a road trip to San Fran, and all you want to do is read Wikipedia, peruse your comic library, or catch up on the latest news, your iPad is probably a good delivery method.
Furthermore, what’s more important? Simple and easy-to-use access to the world’s information database, or you’re ability to disassemble the device your using to read it? The answer is obvious. The benefits of miniaturized (system on a chip) ICs, vertical circuit fabrication, and the power efficiency they bring far, far outweigh the the benefits of being able to disassemble such a device. And I would argue that the physical device itself is far less important in the grand scheme of things compared to the almost infinite software possibilities.
And of course, as a professional Unix admin, I know that options exists for people who want to tinker at a very low level (Linux + cheap commodity hardware). We shouldn’t think of the iPad as a replacement, but rather just another option.