13 ways of looking at an iPad

March 23, 2010, 3:06 PM UTC

Wired taps a baker’s dozen of the “brightest tech minds” to mark the rise of the tablet

Source: Wired magazine

“With the iPad,” writes Steven Levy in How the Tablet Will Change the World, “Apple is making its play to become the center of a post-PC era.”

Levy argues that the conventions underlying today’s personal computers — the graphical user interface, the shrink-wrapped boxes of software — were forged 40 and 50 year ago.

What we are entering now, he writes, is a world of downloadable apps, instant micropayments and machines on which we’ll perform ever more complicated tasks “by rolling, tapping, and drumming our fingers on screens, like pianists tickling the ivories.”

Levy’s piece is the intro to Wired‘s current cover package, Rise of the Machines!, and the prelude to a string of commentary about Apple’s (AAPL) latest creation by what it bills as some of the brightest minds in tech — including a TV hostess, a fake CEO and a man who has been dead for 30 years.

A sampling of what they had to say:

Neil Young, CEO and cofounder, ngmoco: “Forget the netbook. It’s a slow, clunky piece of junk. Do I want to look like the guy who couldn’t afford a real computer or the guy who went to the future and brought back a device that’s as cool as I imagine I am?”

Steven Johnson, Science writer: “With the arrival of the tablet, we have crossed a critical threshold: Where text is concerned, we effectively have infinite computational resources, connectivity, and portability.”

Kevin Kelly, Technology pioneer: “Don’t think of them as tablets. Think of them as windows that you carry.”

James Fallows, National correspondent, The Atlantic: “Will the tablet computer catch on? In one specialized realm, it already and decisively has: aerospace.”

Bob Stein, Codirector, Institute for the Future of the Book: “As conventional publishers prayerfully port their print to tablets, my bet is that the gamemakers will invent the new forms of expression that will dominate the media landscape.”

Martha Stewart, Magazine publisher and TV host: “I already have the digitized version of National Geographic, but it’s not the same thing. It’s just like the magazine. The tablet could be like going into Africa.”

Nicholas Negroponte, Founder, One Laptop per Child: “The unsung advantage of current ebooks is being able to use them in bed.”

Gina Bianchini, CEO, Ning: “A smartphone is mobile, but it isn’t fun to browse on. On a laptop, the technology is built in, but few want to carry around a 6-pound computer for the privilege of using a browser. The tablet bridges this gap.”

George Lois, Advertising pioneer: “The magazine is dead. Long live the magazine.”

Jack Dangermond, President and founder, ESRI: “A location-aware tablet will let us use what’s called geodesign to compose participatory, what-if scenarios onsite, using maps that several people can share.”

Marshall McLuhan, Prophet of the electronic age (channeled by Gary Wolf): “The long story of humanism — by which I mean the emergence of individual consciousness as a byproduct of our language and literature — comes to an end when we return, futuristically, to doing everything by hand.”

Fake Steve Jobs, Not the CEO of Apple: “I wasn’t put on earth to save The New York Times. I was put on earth to restore a sense of childlike wonder to people’s empty, pathetic lives, and I must say that so far I’m doing a pretty outstanding job.”

Chris Anderson, Editor in chief, Wired: “Bigger than a phone, funner than a laptop, more cuddly than a Kindle. I think they’re going to sell like hotcakes.”

To read the essays in full, click here.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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