Why Quinn Norton Won’t Be Buying an iPad

There’s all sorts of interesting arguments about the inherent politics of the iPad out there, like Cory’s and Aaron’s, or maybe most interestingly, Dale’s. But none of that has to do with why I won’t be buying an iPad. I didn’t get as far as those thoughtful concerns. I simply don’t have the money. …

I live a really rich intellectual life and get to do lots of things most poor people don’t, and I appreciate that it’s because almost none of my social group are poor. But sometimes my social group kind of goes crazy and forgets that while they have a lot of power, my class is a whole lot bigger than theirs. And none of them will be buying iPads.

A few of them do have iPhones, because phones are one of those durable goods we need to survive and that’s most of their meager disposable income. A few probably have iPod touches that they got as gifts, hand-me-downs, or because that was their one nice thing they wanted. But the iPad does absolutely nothing vital, and nothing a cheaper piece of electronics doesn’t already do well enough to get by. I’m pretty sure Apple knows this, and couldn’t care less. Poor people do buy iPods, sometimes even new, but they’ve never bought anything else Apple has ever made. And that’s fine. I’ve never felt the urge to get me some Tiffany, and they’ve never felt the need to try to get my money. Similarly, Apple’s just not a brand very open to the poor. But why does this mean anything to the political arguments? Because other vendors out there do want to take our money. We don’t have much, but there’s a lot of us, and unlike the other classes, we’re getting a lot bigger.

The whole thing is well worth reading; almost every sentence contains an insight, sometimes more than one. I don’t agree with all of it, but this is the single best piece of writing on the iPhone and openness. I particularly enjoyed this footnote:

Also, the iPad seriously looks like thief bait. We’re not idiots, we know what our drunk uncles are going to do with it if we come home with one.

In australia it can be bit different, the more obvious & walled up & big a house ; the more likely it will be that the inhabitants will owe so much to visa that they cant afford to actually eat . The house without an ‘apple’ that one of our our poorer rellies lives in, has a flat screen the size of a tennis court, several of those wifi games thingos and enough other gadgets to stock a small department store ( all bought on ebay for half list price.

Down here it is still often the case that the man in the shirt and tie is provably the waiter.

Am struck by the degree of anger in the writing.

” We had fed the heart on fantasies,

The heart’s grown brutal on the fare;

More substance in our enmities

Than in our love; O honey-bees,

Come build your nests in the empty house of the stare”

The world could do with a bit more ‘honey and wax’ at the moment.

Vendors need to sell things to stay in business. They are not “taking money.” They are providing products or services in return for payment. Anyone who thinks it is not a fair deal does not have to buy: At least, if it’s not a necessity for life or work.

I’ve never owned a cell phone, a laptop, an e-book reader, or any computing equipment other than a desktop PC, a printer, and a monitor. I don’t need those other things, but I don’t resent anyone trying to sell them to me. I just ignore the ads.

I also ignore anyone calling me a “Luddite,” just because I don’t buy things I don’t want or need. The reality is, I have a very high-end PC, a very high-end laser printer, and a lot of expensive software because I need them for my business. I have to upgrade them frequently and I need to know how to use them at a professional level. I also have to be familiar with the details of continually changing book-printing technology. Hardly Ludditeism.

So the trick is—as this blogger seems to have done—to identify what you really need or want, and not go around resenting vendors because they sell things you don’t want, or other people because they do buy those things.