Patently Absurd

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Aug 152011

Google buys “Android Partner” Motorola for $12.5 billion.

Wild. What do you have to say for yourself, Google CEO Larry Page? “[The acquisition will] enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”

To paraphrase: “Screw you, Steve Jobs.”

I hope this swings the pendulum away from corporate patent trolling and towards innovation and competition. Apple is expert at both; Jobs only knows why they have concentrated on the former.

Apple and Adobe: It’s the Censorship, Stupid

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May 172010
Apple logo

The hearts of trendy technology fanboys the world ’round have been aflutter over the Apple versus Adobe showdown. All this agitation on the intellectual sea has produced some foam, as agitation will, but I worry when emotions run high and hyperbole runs rampant. A private technology mailing list to which I am privy began dissecting Kevin Lynch’s interview with Brady Forrest at Web 2.0 Expo SF. One gentleman, targeting Mr Lynch’s dark depiction of “walled gardens” (read: the iPad), went so far as to call Mr Lynch an “evil, evil man” for his demands that Apple open its precious platform to Adobe’s products.

Kevin Lynch a twice-evil man, is that not a tick harsh? An unabashed puller of the corporate line, certainly…though as the CTO, he helps write the corporate line. A egotistical geek, sure…again, CTO. Evil? The legal-but-immoral thoughts Steve Jobs wakes up with on a given Tuesday would make Mr Lynch curl up in a ball and beg for his mother, yet still I would hesitate to call Mr Jobs evil. (What is Steve, then? It rhymes with brass soul.)

To consumers, Apple sells delicious little bundles of hardware and software: iPhones, iPods, iPads. Apple also sells, to developers, access to that army of captive consumers, taking its famous 30% cut on App Store purchases. Apple created a platform and is her gatekeeper, censoring content and now dictating development methods. Do we as a society want Apple, or any corporation, to be the lone censor for a widespread and important consumer platform? I submit that society does not. The printing press manufacturer may not censor the daily newspaper. The descendants of Johannes Gutenberg may not challenge J. K. Rowling, no matter how derivative her imagination or childish her writing.

Our entire body of work here at Lab49 depends on tools and platforms built by others, and specifically, much of my own craft involves running Adobe tools on Apple platforms (excepting when bank clients force me onto Secure Build Windows, itself an oxymoron if ever there were one). On one hand I want Apple and Adobe to kiss, make up, and get the band back together for an overpriced reunion tour. On the other hand I enjoy watching two promoters of closed systems accuse each other of promoting closed systems. Hypocrisy may be a scoundrel’s refuge, but it is my entertainment.

Apr 282010
PowerPoint icon

In a New York Times article We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint, published earlier this week, Elisabeth Bumiller assaults PowerPoint and its stranglehold on the daily lives of American soldiers. As presented by Ms. Bumiller, the situation is so bleak that one Army lieutenant, asked how he spends most of his time deployed in Iraq, responded, “Making PowerPoint slides.” Pressed, it turned out he was quite serious.

PowerPoint at its best is a mediocre tool to create mediocre presentations. PowerPoint in general magnifies the worst inefficiencies of big organizations and encourages the weaker tendencies of small minds within. I will not describe further my utter disdain for PowerPoint: I haven’t the language. Odds are the reader hasn’t the time.

For the poor souls conditioned to create deck after PowerPoint deck (dreck?) for the torture of their peers, mine are fighting words. Strangely the loudest dissent may well come from one known to me. Though he and I have not been in touch for a while, Adam Cooper grew up with a close friend of mine, and back when the three of us lived in NYC, we gathered occasionally on my roof deck for poker nights. Indeed, you would never suspect Adam to be a purveyor of evil, yet he is the proud author of PowerPoint Presentations That Sell. The reader might imagine my internal struggle to at once condemn dubious claims of “effective” PowerPoint and blindly promote a buddy’s book (see Figure 1). In the end, the only shared ground on which we might build a compromise may be David Byrne’s PowerPoint art (see Figure 2).

PowerPoint Presentations That Sell | by Adam Cooper

Figure 1: PowerPoint Presentations That Sell | by Adam Cooper

Sea of Possibilities | by David Byrne

Figure 2: Sea of Possibilities | by David Byrne