Thursday 6 October 2011


It feels a little like Apple has just been cored.

This morning, I don't think I was alone in shedding a tear. The difference between a geek, a nerd, and everyone else, was probably actually how you felt this morning. Because you see, for the nerds among us, he was more than a genius, an innovator, a visceral businessman and a cunning media manipulator.

He was a nerd.

One of us. One of me. 

I picked up a book about the History of Computing on Charing Cross Road many years ago. It had zeroes and ones on the front. I've never studied computing, I've never studied anything to do with them. Never. But I know how binary looks and I know I love computers so I wanted to know how come I suddenly landed in this magic world where I can tap and you can see and there's nothing but a Submit button between us.

I read about machine cards, punch cards. I read about stealing time on these machines by teenagers with big ideas and a gaming habit to feed. I read about sneaking time, and heat and a dot in the wrong place meaning hours of re-feeding card. I read about electronics stores like Maplins now, with bits of kit, soldering irons, metal, boards and bauds. I read about personality clashes and ethics, disagreements and disappointments and I understood a little better why among nerd friends, Microsoft were the dark side and unix was the source and Apple were the cute little quirky kids on the block trying to break peoples heads.

Apple always tried to break peoples heads.

I first surfed the web on a Mac. I taught myself how to use it. I then moved onto Unix (x-term) and then onto Microsoft then iOS. But I remember the clack of the keyboard. But then I remember the clack of every keyboard. I have had good keyboards and bad. 

What Steve Jobs did was remove the sound. He took away the barrier between me and you. He removed the physical keyboard and gave me touch and tap and tactile. Swipes and smiles. Apps and aspirations.

I felt like I'd made it as a geek, the day I brought my iPad 2 home. It is, to this day, my most prized possession. I adore it, more than any pair of shoes or handbag. Almost as much as my bike. Almost.

But it's easy to forget that the beauty for a lot of other people, the magic for a lot of other people, is surface. It is cool. It is consumer. It is brand. It is Apple. It is keeping up with the Jones for a whole new generation.

For me, it's about being a nerd. It will always be about being a nerd. And my nerd hero has died. The propellers spin no more. The machinery will no longer compute. 

Apple has been cored.


  1. Hi Louise
    My comment here is in response to a tweet you sent today about how you interpreted a lack of comment on a blog post. The post above serves as an example. When I read the post above earlier today I agreed with your sentiments, the History of Computing story was familiar to me as I have read or watched things which tell that story. I love using my iPad 2 very much too. (And my bike.) However I didn't post a comment here. I didn't feel I had anything useful to add. I would have clicked a 'like' button.
    You've made me think about what prompts me to comment on a post, as there are some blogs, yours included, that I subscribe to through Google Reader and do make the time to read all the posts on a regular basis. I think I tend to comment if a connection to something else sparks and I can add a link somewhere else which I think others might find useful. I am likely to comment if a post strikes me as being very useful and relevant to work I'm doing or planning, so I save it to diigo and say thank you to the author. I might comment if I strongly agree, or perhaps disagree a bit and so want to throw something else in. Which reminds me of a discussion about people who respond to opportunities to get involved in their communities, which I was part of on some community engagement training run last week by @JonnyZander and co. We discussed a perception that unless someone is very passionate about something (perhaps passionately for it, or against it), they may not get involved as they see other people who care more and decide to leave them to it. They may feel they don't have much to offer. Perhaps we experience something similar on blogs - we read a post, broadly agree, don't feel we have much more to offer on the subject, so leave it to someone else to respond. A result can be no comments. It doesn't mean readers haven't enjoyed reading the post, or dismissed it. They've simply chosen to listen and didn't immediately have anything further they felt worth sharing. In this sense blogs feel different to forums on online networks, where I think contributions should be acknowledged by those in the conversation.
    So why not celebrate the fact that people listen when we blog? (Even if they have nothing further to add at the time.) It all adds up to a big online conversation :-)

  2. I adore this. Not cos it makes me feel better (although it does, I wont lie) but because it's something so true. I don't answer every single tweet I read - it would be noise. And so perhaps some of the things I don't reply to might not be noise and some might be but cumulatively? Noise.

    Blog comments are the same, I suppose. It's quality and not quantity (and this is definitely in the quality camp cos it's making me think and oh I do so miss it) and that's the rub. A lack of noise is not a lack of interest. A carefully considered comment is worth 10,000 bits of noise.

    I am losing the awesome people in a sea of noise. I must do something about that.