As readers of if:book know, i've often referred to books as the principal vehicle humans have used to move ideas around time and space. Thanks in large part to the internet, over the past fifteen years that function is increasingly being supplanted by the internet/computer/screen combo. I know many people are disappointed in the iPad because they see it as a crippled computer (e.g. Cory Doctorow's recent rant in Boing Boing). Perhaps, if Cory and other critics would stop thinking of the iPad as a computer, but rather think of it as the container for a new kind of book, they might see its potential in a different light. Although a book (in technology terms) is a closed system and certainly not a platform for creativity in the sense that a computer (or a typewriter is), that hasn't stopped books from being invaluable to humanity. For me, the iPad is a an exciting baby step on the way to realizing Neal Stephenson's astonishing conception of the future of the book as described in Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. Well worth the read.
[NOTE: Having said all this, I am still very disappointed in all the ways that Apple limits that potential by insisting that the iPad live within the tightly controlled garden walls it has constructed.]
Bob Stein being his usual idiosyncratic self, or is he on the money here?
On the other hand, Cory D certainly is very cross about a lot of things, not many of them to do directly with the transformation of content by instruments and more to do with distribution, creativity and shared culture. The comments on his (sometimes theatrical) post are instructive too.