Apple Chaos Theory

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By goffperu
August 15, 2003

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Following our recent discussion of Hydra and its educational uses, I started thinking about one of the major differences between Apple and MSFT in this regard. My conclusion is that Apple is much less about control than MSFT. Microsoft releases powerful tools that allow you to do a lot of neat things that THEY want to let you do. Apple takes a different approach. They (and their developers) release tools that do neat things that NOBODY has a clue how it will be used. Examples:

1) iTunes: I am sure Apple expected people to stick all of their music on it, but did they expect language teachers to give students playlists of language lab recordings? Did they expect a monkey researcher to keep a catalogue of monkey vocalizations to be broadcast for her experiments in primate communication? I think not.

2) iMovie: Home movies, sure. What about Star Wars Kid? That was too funny. How about the English teacher at my school that had his 7th graders film their interpretations of Romeo and Juliet? How about my science students making videos to teach 3rd graders basic physics concepts? How about the computer teacher that had his kids make absolutely hilarious animation films using a digital still camera, QuickTime Pro, and iMovie?

3) iChat AV: We all thought iChat was just AIM built into Macs when it first came out. Well, look at it now! Video telephony is just one application. I have heard about people helping friends fix a car remotely, do computer troubleshooting over the network, etc. I have a friend whose kids played hide and seek with an Airport-connected iBook and an iSight. It was really funny to watch. Kids were on opposite sides of the Pacific. One kid hid, her brother was The Finger, and the third was in Japan. The kid in Japan would tell the finger, whose finger was visible from the camera, to go left, right, or straight. Cool.

4) Rendezvous: The jury is still out. However, it seems that a lot of uses of this technology are developing organically. Hydra and iTunes sharing is just the beginning.

I am sure you can think of many more examples. I am sure there are examples of really neat things that people have done with Excel, too. However, I think that Apple generally enjoys opening Pandora's box and seeing what happens. I LOVE THAT. This orientation ranks much higher than design brilliance in my book.

On the other hand, I just saw T3. Maybe opening Pandora's box will not always be cool...;)

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