At this week’s D8 conference, Steve Jobs made an interesting comment regarding the coming shift from PCs to tablet computing.
When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farms. But cars eventually became more prevalent is people moved to cities. PCs will be like trucks…they are still going to be around, but there is a transformation coming, and it will make some people uneasy. Is it the iPad? Who knows? Will it be next year or five years from now? (macrumors)
Interestingly, it seems that the truck made agrarian life obsolete, but in doing so it also made itself less needed. The truck allowed people to make the transition from rural to urban life, but that shift also meant they no longer needed their trucks (except in Texas of course, where we all need trucks.)
In the long term I’m guessing that Jobs will be right that full-fledged computers will eventually give way to more tablets and mobile devices. It seems that “computing devices” are separating into devices which create content (full-size computers) and devices which consume content (tablets, phones, etc.). Trucks and computers make stuff, cars and tablets consume stuff. Trucks and computers make cars and tablets possible, but they also oversee their own decline in usage.
As we make this slow and steady transition, it’s worth remembering our Biblical call to be what Andy Crouch calls “culture makers” and not just “culture consumers.”
Crouch also warns us not to be mere “culture criticizers” who fail to actually make anything. This mirrors Jobs’ email exchange with a Gizmodo blogger in which he asked, “By the way, what have you done that’s so great?” Indeed.