[Humanist] 24.365 iPad apps by us

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Sep 30 00:22:02 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 365.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 07:18:51 -0400
        From: Patrick Durusau <patrick at durusau.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.362 iPad apps by us
        In-Reply-To: <20100928205253.3F27F8553A at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Wendell,

On Tue, 2010-09-28 at 20:52 +0000, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

> Dear Patrick,
> Last week you wrote:
> > > The question might be posed: why should HE and OpenSource 
> > developers produce something for a company which in effect operates 
> > restricted practices?  IMHO, it would be unethical for HE people to 
> > take this route.
> > > Dave Postles
> >
> >Err, because it is another way to make it available to users?
> >
> >Traditional print publishers restricted access to paying customers.
> >
> >Was publishing with them unethical? (Is is unethical now?)
> It isn't that a proprietary platform is in itself unethical. As you 
> know very well, intellectual property regimes such as patent and 
> copyright, no matter how distorted they have become in recent 
> decades, are designed for the public interest: the cultivation of a 
> public domain, by allowing creators and innovators to profit from 
> their works *for a limited time* and thereby motivate their risks and 
> investments. That's why it's called a "patent": because I am enabled 
> to share it without fear that you will steal it. Then, after I have 
> profited and it has become more mature, we all get to put it into our 
> boxes to tinker with.
> I think Desmond has put his finger on the essential issue: the 
> strategic question of whether you harness your cart to that 
> particular horse. Personally, I won't be developing for an iPad not 
> only for the bedrock practical reason (not having the time or much 
> inclination to master objective-C) but also for this entirely 
> hypothetical one: that I would be banking on either iPad becoming a 
> monopoly, or my application will be successful enough to command 
> interest and resources for me to afford porting it, when the time 
> came, to run on iPad's competitors and successors. (Timothy Hill has 
> also articulated this for us.)

But Desmond did not frame the question as a practical one but an
*ethical* one. 

I don't use Apple products and so carry no brief for the iPad but on the
other hand, anyone developing for an academic environment should give it
a close look.

Macintosh platforms became popular in academia because Apple realized
people want computers to help them with their tasks. Not to have a
second religion (*nix) or to have unreliable software on unreliable
hardware (Windows). 

I am writing this post on a *nix machine that shares a monitor and
keyboard with a Windows machine and have used both for almost 20 years,
so no flames please.

> Fundamentally, this is why the old guard -- who developed TEI and 
> then XML -- had it essentially right. Yes, we need to do the work of 
> development. But we need to develop the standards as well, as they 
> are the platform on which the long future will be built. (Patrick, I 
> know this is no mystery to you.)
> Accordingly, I am eager to see what iPad applications will be doing 
> with data in openly specified formats, whether it be 
> HTML/CSS/Javascript, HTML5, a TEI profile, or your own entirely local 
> semantics exposed in XML or some other clean format. If you only tell 
> me what it is, I can generate it.

I am not sure what "openly specified formats" have to do with
development on the iPad? So far as I know the iPad has no restrictions
on the data formats iPad applications can read. Is there information to
the contrary?

Open formats are about data *interchange.* 

You may find it difficult to duplicate the capabilities of the iPad in
another environment but that is hardly the fault of the iPad or a reason
to avoid it as a development platform.

My original point was that if a target audience uses the iPad and/or the
iPad offers capabilities that your application requires, or both, then
develop for the iPad. Neither one of those are "ethical" questions.  

Hope you are having a great day!


Patrick Durusau
patrick at durusau.net
Chair, V1 - US TAG to JTC 1/SC 34
Convener, JTC 1/SC 34/WG 3 (Topic Maps)
Editor, OpenDocument Format TC (OASIS), Project Editor ISO/IEC 26300
Co-Editor, ISO/IEC 13250-1, 13250-5 (Topic Maps)

Another Word For It (blog): http://tm.durusau.net
Homepage: http://www.durusau.net
Twitter: patrickDurusau

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