This video, “A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work”, is getting passed around a lot right now. From the description: “Technology codes our minds, changes our OS. Apple products have done this extensively. The video shows how magazines are now useless and impossible to understand, for digital natives. It shows real life clip of a 1-year old, growing among touch screens and print. And how the latter becomes irrelevant. Medium is message. Humble tribute to Steve Jobs, by the most important person : a baby.”
To which, might I humbly point out: IT’S A BABY. I’m not sure it tells us much about the nature of user interfaces because IT’S A BABY and it DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT MAGAZINES ARE. It also doesn’t understand what an iPad is, or what a user interface is, because it’s a one year old baby and it doesn’t even understand what itself is. Babies aren’t “digital natives” (and by the way oh god stop calling your daughter that), because they aren’t even themselves-natives yet. I know it was kind of cute when Clay Shirky said that thing about the four-year-old looking for the mouse on a television and videos of babies always seem really meaningful and stuff, but ultimately what we’re dealing with here is a thought process that’s going “OOH LOOK SHINY THING want milk now OOH LOOK SHINY THING let’s see if I can break it WANT MILK also I have done a poo.” Babies don’t offer much insight into the functionality of information transmission mediums because fundamentally, brilliant as they are in many ways, BABIES ARE IDIOTS. In fact, if you’ve ever tried to give a baby a present of any kind, you’ll realise that to them an iPad is a broken Box That The iPad Came In, because it’s harder to make it part of a tower you can knock over and Daddy gets nervous when you try. At the most basic level, to a baby, everything that isn’t Mum is broken. An iPad is a Mum that doesn’t work. A Samsung Galaxy Tab is a Mum that doesn’t work. A magazine is a Mum that doesn’t work. Dad is a Mum that doesn’t work. Because, as I might have mentioned, it’s a BABY.
Also the video actually seems to show that the baby can’t operate the iPad at all in a meaningful way, but giggles when shiny thing does whooshy bright light stuff, while she’s already getting the hang of the page-turning interface of the magazines pretty well.