Because the movie about dentists was such a gag fest, I am tweaking my post title to lob some rocks at Apple.
But before that, my long disclaimer.
I love Apple products. I am one who’s “stone cold death grip” would be clamped on a PowerBook. I’ve done programming, multimedia, CD-ROMs, internet-ing all in the Mac OS for almost 20 years. I run all of my web server apps on a humble Powerbook.
Back in 1987, I was hooked as a Geology grad student put in charge of a lab of new Mac Plus-es. I loved those little guys, even swapping floppies in and out, System 6, Word 3.0, a blazing fast 300 baud modem. Later, for some visualization research, I had primary access to the two color Mac IIs in the open lab- I could boot anyone off if I had some research to do. Then I moved up with some more research projects using a Mac IIci, with that fast 68030 chip.
Dropping the grad school game and coming to work for Maricopa in 1992, my lineage included a high end Quadra, then an PowerMac 8500, then a G3 Pismo laptop, and two more later G4 TiBooks. The first web server in Maricopa was a Mac SE/30 I plugged in the net in 1993 running MacHTTP. My home machines have been a Mac Classic, a Performa, an early G3 tower, and an iBook. And now, for my new gig at NMC, I am blessed with a MacBookPro (blessed so far, though it has not been stressed).
When my hand slips and slices across a keyboard, the blood is rainbow colored. I bleed those colors.
But as much as I love the Mac environment, I’ve never been all that enamored with the Apple ‘mystique’. No pilgrimages to MacWorld, no immersion in MacRumor forums, no turning old macs into gumball machines or aqauriums, no secret posters of “Steve” on the back of my door nor are there black turtlenecks in the closet.
I have to say, though, after getting a bit of a whiff of the hype over Apple’s iTunes U, trying almost in vain to summon collaboration and interest at Maricopa, and barking about it in this blog, I am completely lost on how their strategy of keeping the product a secret has a snowball’s chance on a Spring day on Phoenix asphalt.
Our local iTunesU rep is out of contact with the software engineers and as much in waiting to hear what iTunes will do as we are. We never got a response to the invited “application” submitted more than 4 weeks ago. All we heard is, “all will be revealed May 15”. And the only information left to share is the PR plaff that has not changed since it was hoisted in January. What can I tell our faculty? “Education beyond the classroom”? How about our technical folks? “Easy as pi”?
This might be a successful strategy for unveiling a new iPod or some sexy hardware, but in terms of a service to education, I cannot say enough wretched things about “The Secret Lives of Apple Products” approach of keeping educators in the dark. If that is the plan, then they should not have stirred up the hype machine with a veil of cliche phrases.
And to be honest, at this point, I don’t even care. Maybe iTunesU will be an uber cool technology, and will revolutionize education, and be a floor wax too. Frankly I feel like we are made to be fools stuck beyond the velvet ropes.
So the flick “The Secret Lives of Apple Products” may never leave the shelves at Blockbuster. I’d almost rather be forced to watch an endless loop of “Broken Flowers”.