Thursday in Santa Fe

02010-01-28 | Uncategorized | 15 comments

It started snowing early this Morning but, thanks to the Winter tires on my front wheels, I was able to leave the hill for breakfast with Jon. It ended up snowing for most of the day, the biggest snowfall of the Winter so far.

During rehearsal yesterday we took a couple of breaks to check out what Apple was unveiling in San Francisco. Since then I have had a chance to reflect on the new iPad (((I think MacBook Touch would have been nicer, followed by a MacBook Pro Touch, perhaps with a wider screen in a year or two. iPod Touch and MacBook Touch…))) and especially the reaction it has been getting. Here is my take on the tablet:

When the iPhone was first shown in 2007 many rival smartphone manufacturers didn’t think it would gain much of a market share. I don’t think that was PR, I think they probably genuinely didn’t get it, meaning they didn’t understand the appeal of such a phone without buttons. Now Apple, on the strength of the iPhone and the App store, has become the largest mobile devices manufacturer in the world.

Hm, maybe like playing Nouveau Flamenco for a traditional Flamenco fan – they would have said (((did say!!))), what on earth is that???

It seems nerds don’t like the iPad, because it doesn’t do multi-tasking, doesn’t have a fast enough processor, doesn’t have a camera (((and I would like to be able to attach the tablet to my studio computer and use it as an input device – instead of using a mouse – for editing…))) yada yada yada, but once again there is a misunderstanding here, a rather big one. Apple did not design the iPad for me or for nerds. Nerds can fiddle with Linux or build their own computers from spare PC parts. Nerds are also a rather small buying group overall and, I imagine, not very brand-loyal. I think Apple is going for a much larger audience than that.

To put that in perspective again, if I had written and produced NF to impress Flamenco afficionados and Flamenco guitarists, the album would have been a failure. Not only would the album not have appealed to them, they would also have been too small of an audience to sell a decent amount of records. Not that I imagined to sell more than the initial 1,000 copies Frank Howell made, but in hindsight it is pretty clear that the album would not have sold over two million copies if it had been more traditional. In that case I would still have a day-job somewhere in Santa Fe, and would perform at local restaurants and bars. Nothing wrong with that, naturally, but my life would have been rather different.

In fact, I don’t think there is a more traditional sounding Flamenco album that has sold even half a million copies in the USA. Go to the Grammy website, start a RIAA Gold or Platinum certification search and plug in the most famous Flamenco guitarists you can think of, say Paco De Lucia or Vicente Amigo… and you will come up with… nothing, zero. Their music, although very beautiful, appeals to a narrower slice of the public.

Back to the iPad, maybe Flamenco afficionados and guitarists are similar to the nerds who hate the iPad. But the public, I think the public will love it and buy it. I think my dad would have loved it. Even in his nineties he would have grasped the brilliant concept and the simplicity. The iPad is for people who are intimidated by a computer, by people who look at a computer’s desktop and wonder how one can get started. I mean, you could leave an iPad in your living room and everyone who comes for a visit would play with it. Getting around an iPad is child’s play, in fact every pre-school should have several. Imagine interactive lessons for grade-schoolers on the iPad.

Yeah, I do want one for our bus this Summer! And that gives me another idea: hm, wouldn’t it be great if you could create separate accounts on every iPad, so that I could sign in to check my email, then Jon could sign in to read his book, then Michael could sign in and watch one of his movies… and then combine that with the concept of storing music and movies and data in the cloud and the tablet would become an empty container, a furoshiki to be used by anyone with a login!! That would mean that every hotel could have a bunch of these slates lying around in their lobby or the restaurant, for anybody to grab, sign in and use while they are visiting, to read the news, check their email, message their friends… Oh, well, in ten years maybe? Twenty?

Other stuff that caught my eye today:

Running barefoot may mean fewer injuries than wearing trainers
Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman has ditched his trainers and started running barefoot. His research shows that running barefoot generates less impact shock than running in trainers. This makes barefoot running more comfortable and could minimise running-related injuries

– with video. I have written about barefoot walking versus wearing shoes before – here, and here.

Ferran Adria is closing El Bulli. It’s time to tackle his cookbook
So, Ferran Adria has announced that El Bulli – the best restaurant in the world – is set to close for a couple of years, and jaws have dropped wide enough to shove a whole tasting menu in. “No meals will be served in El Bulli in 2012 and 2013,” Adria told the Madrid Fusion gastronomic conference on Tuesday. “With a format like the current one it is impossible to keep creating. In 2014, we will serve food somehow. I don’t know if it will be for one guest or 1,000.”

Looks like Stephen Batchelor’s new book will be published in March. Here is the publisher’s website, which contained this quote at the bottom:

The human thirst for the transcendent, the numinous—even the ecstatic—is too universal and too important to be entrusted to the cultish and the archaic and the superstitious. In this honest and serious book of self-examination and critical scrutiny, Stephen Batchelor adds the universe of Buddhism to the many fields in which received truth and blind faith are now giving way to ethical and scientific humanism, in which lies our only real hope.
—Christopher Hitchens

I just sent him an email, wondering whether he used one of my photos of him.

Gut symmetries
Now that physics is proving the intelligence of the universe, what are we to do about the stupidity of mankind? I include myself. I know that the Earth is not flat, but my feet are. I know that space is curved, but my brain has been cordoned by habit to grow in a straight line. What I call light is my own blend of darkness. What I call a view is my hand-painted trompe-l’oeil. I run after knowledge like a ferret down a ferret hole. My limitations, I call the boundaries of what can be known. I interpret the world by confusing other people’s psychology with my own. I say I am open-minded, but what I think is.
— Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries
(Via Nikola Tamindzic)

15 Comments

  1. Brenda

    Thank you.:)

    Reply
  2. Panj

    Perfect night-time reading!

    Reply
  3. Victor

    Right on the money with your review of the ipad you have a great way with words Ottmar. Well, I guess the iPad is going to sell like Nouveau Flamenco. I cant wait to get one too. I think it will be great for traveling with.

    Reply
  4. LindaW

    Excellent post Ottmar. Strangely one of the last CDs i ever bought was Nouveau Flamenco, but its now my most listened to.

    I agree with all you wrote about the iPad, the only thing I don’t quite care for is it’s name. I’ll have to check it out when it is released. (I’ll bet the Vellum app will be a lot easier to draw on using iPad)

    Reply
  5. steve

    I really hope this iPad takes off, especially from the standpoint of e-books.

    I teach at a technical college. I teach three classes, each of which has its own 900+ page textbook, plus lab manuals, etc … Since I teach all three classes on the same days I end up lugging around all this stuff at once. I don’t know what it weighs but its managed to rip out the bottom of the backpack.

    Imagine all these textbooks in electronic format on an iPad.

    Wow.

    Reply
  6. Adam Solomon

    “Maybe Flamenco afficionados and guitarists are similar to the nerds who hate the iPad.”

    Hey, all three of those things describe me :) How about that.

    Personally, I was hoping for something better – something like a Macbook with a swivel screen that becomes a tablet. Like the PC tablets that have been selling for years with so much potential. Apple could easily be the ones to tap into that potential. Instead they’ve created a device that seems like a laptop replacement, but uses that iPhone OS – a lovely thing for iPhones, but I frequently find myself having to go to my Macbook when I run into an issue on the iPhone, and just making the screen bigger does *not* solve that problem. Why they couldn’t have used Mac OS, why they had to use the limited iPhone OS, which is handicapped on the internet and doesn’t let you move files or install applications without Apple’s permission, is beyond me.

    That said, it is very pretty :) I’ve always thought it would be nice to have a good, somewhat portable way of reading the new astrophysics papers that get posted daily, without having to print them all out. But I’ll need to be a lot richer man before this is worth buying for that one use ;)

    Steve, I love having physical books, and a physical library where all my books – those heavy astronomy, physics and math textbooks included – can be on display for the world. I think having a lone iPad on my bookshelf, scrolling through my vast collection of eBooks in Cover Flow, just isn’t the same, don’t you?

    Reply
  7. Adam Solomon

    And yes, right on about the target audience. Also include Apple fanboys who’ll buy anything they put out :) (thankfully I’m one step – or maybe a half pace – short of that) I’m sure that’s enough to get Apple a decent market share.

    Reply
  8. marijose

    It may not happen right away, but I suspect that colleges (under pressure from students who are tired of spending small fortunes on textbooks) and cash-strapped public school districts will warm up to electronic textbooks. Besides the obvious advantages of lower costs and weight, e-textbooks offer a richer, more individualized and interactive learning experience. Inkling’s platform looks like it has lots of potential – http://www.inkling.com/about/ .

    Not everyone is into owning physical books. I love to read, but with access to several well-stocked library systems and inter-library loans I can’t remember the last time I bought a book.

    Reply
  9. Adam Solomon

    Good points, but I’m not sure your arguments about physical books hold for the iPad – you don’t buy books because you can read them for free, not because you don’t like the physicality, so why would you spend money in the iTunes ebook store when you can still use libraries?

    Reply
  10. Ottmar

    When I am on a six-week tour, I don’t like to carry books – too much bulk and too much weight. Since I read a lot, even a two week tour in Europe can mean that books add too much weight to my suitcase, especially since I try to keep the weight of the luggage under 50 pounds.

    I think carrying music, books and films on a hard drive has been a wonderful improvement for travelers.

    I love the ability to highlight sentences in an e-book and to add notes. Even if one is willing to write notes in a real book, one still has to mark up the page somehow, so one can FIND them later.

    No, I am certainly sold on e-books. And they save trees!

    Reply
  11. marijose

    Adam, sorry if I wasn’t clear. I’m not used to spending money on physical or e-books, so i wouldn’t go out and buy an iPad to then start buying e-books. I plan to continue borrowing books from libraries. I don’t have to travel for work, so I’m OK with checking out several books every few weeks.

    I can see the day, though, when colleges and schools have to resort to e-textbooks to save money and to individualize instruction. With an e-text, students could take individualized quizzes to help ensure understanding of key concepts, they could watch video segments or take mini-virtual field trips, they could highlight texts or write notes in high school without getting into trouble, auditory learners could have stuff read to them…just some ideas off the top of my head. Not to mention that little kids used to playing on their parents’ iPhones or Touch iPods would take to e-texts on iPads very naturally.

    Reply
  12. steve

    @Adam …

    I think my viewpoint is different: I bicycle to the college irrespective of the weather. I teach all day and well into the evening three days a week. I don’t have a car sitting in the parking lot that I can store things in or treat like my rolling office or locker. All that paper is a pain. Plus, since I started teaching there, each of those 900+ page books has been through four print revisions. Think of it: 900 pages * three textbooks * four revisions = 10,800 pages. Imagine all those students … that’s a lot of trees.

    I imagine carrying around a 0.68 kg computer all day with those textbooks loaded on it, and I just smile.

    I don’t mind having those big thick textbooks at my home in my personal library but to have to carry them around is daunting to say the least.

    Reply
  13. yumi

    I just talked with a friend today about using e-books and how he might enjoy it. There are so many nice features I thought he could utilize. Maybe when the first bound books, scrolls, parchment and quills were made for reading, people said the same pros and cons in particular to the reading style of the day?

    marijose: For colleges and schools, I love this idea for students. The instructor would have to be creative and that’s a good thing. What takes so long is the behind the scenes negotiations with publishing companies and many times the politics involved. By then the technology is passe.

    Reply
  14. marijose

    Yes, the politics and what have you would definitely slow things down. My daughter and I had fun talking about the possibilities of e-textbooks. Apple would definitely have to come up with a kid-proof iPad screen (i.e., not glass).

    Last year I heard futurist Edie Weiner talk about little kids are so used to playing with electronic toys, but then we expect them to sit in desks facing the front of the classroom while teachers use antiquated teaching methods for years and years, and we give them a hard time when they have trouble paying attention. She has a nice blog post about it at http://visionsfortomorrow.net/2008/07/the-future-of-education.php .

    Reply

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