Slate on the iPhone

30 Jun ’07

Just in case you were wondering, yes, it’s true, Jack Shafer of Slate decided early that there was a self-branding opportunity in being the skeptic’s skeptic on the iPhone, and he’s working it, baby. And now, tearing a page from the “Ironic Observer of the Media Fetish for Paris Hilton” playbook, he’s going after media that is kind-of-sort-of-but-not-nearly-skeptical-enough-about-the-iPhone-for-Jack. Call him the Commissar of Cool, or maybe the Ideological Purity Department of product launches – when it comes to getting ahead of the backlash and being the coolest kid in class, Jack’s the man.

Meanwhile, Tim “All I Want is Everything, Now” Wu mines iPhone linkbait opportunities by getting all semantic on us about the difference between “revolutionary” and “pathbreaking” (but hey – “pathbreaking” only about “aesthetics”, which “matter”, but otherwise, snore – right?), and by recycling old complaints to Slate’s demographic. Yes, yes, we get it – open=good, closed=bad. But moaning about the iPhone not being unlocked from the get-go, or about it not being a universal roaming device, or about it being a “closed” platform, is a little like bitching about the tearing down of the Bastille because the aristocracy still lives. We’ll get to them – meanwhile, keep knitting. (And of course, good luck getting anything from any carrier (like visual voicemail) if you don’t give them something in return.) And honestly, if I hear anyone else whine about EDGE I’m going to plotz, right here. Faster is why we invented the future. Once again, we’ll get to that.

I won’t be getting an iPhone (of course, as a Canadian, this is a hollow comment) – I have a serious and committed relationship with my Pearl. But I’m a big fan of people with the nerve to take big risks and try to create positive change, a day at a time. Serial moaners, whiners and complainers, and “what have you done for me lately-ers” – not so much.

Update: if you’re looking for deeper thought on the iPhone than the fanboy material out there or Slate’s anti-fanboy ramblings, head over to Mike’s Techdirt Insight Community for some, er, insight.

Updater: Ed Felten on the Zen of Knitting.

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