Archive for February, 2009
As a lifetime Mac user, I’m not a stranger to loving technology. I loved the first Mac I ever used, the SE. I loved my portable MiniDisc player/recorder, my Grundig digital shortwave radio, my Chrysler LeBaron, my Handspring Visor. Today I love my Sentra, my iPhone and the unibody MacBook Pro so thoughtfully provided by my employer, Full Sail.
There are those who view this fondness as peculiar, but loving a built object isn’t love of the inanimate at all. People design and build things for different reasons: profit, necessity, curiosity, even the simple love of creation. No matter the reason, in every object ever built there lies a profound and individual expression of the need to create. The need to create a something, where once there existed nothing.
Where we find ourselves loving an object, we find ourselves connecting with the innermost convictions of that object’s creators. No object is born without painful compromises. The places where a creator refused to compromise, worked ragged until the problem area yielded and conformed to the desires of the creator, those are the places where our love is born. When a creation adds to our lives and does so with competence and certitude of purpose, we feel a bond with whomever made that creation real. You can’t help it. To find utility in an object made by someone who is not you implies a commonality of existence that transcends anything you can ever feel from most other forms of human interaction. It is the knowledge of shared problems, shared challenges, shared frustration with a world unaccommodating of your needs.
When looking at the early history of humanity and its progenitors, the sophistication and composition of tools is used to measure advancement. Built objects are deep in our shared heritage. It is surely in our nature to feel a deep and abiding attachment for the those objects that most improve our lives, as our forebears have also felt for millennia.
This knowledge is a warm and reassuring blanket as I create my own tools and share them with others, participating in a grand and universal tradition. At the same time, it is daunting to know the depth of the footsteps in which any creator must walk.
To love a tool that is built well and that makes your world better isn’t unnatural. It’s one of the most quintessentially human responses imaginable.
See the 2010 updated edition of this post.
Reader Benjamin wrote to me tonight and asked:
I have researched some into iPhone programming as I am obsessed with every application that is available for my own iPhone. The problem is that the amount of books and articles out there about programming for an iPhone is enormous. Do you have any recommendations for a few killer books to read in order to learn the process/language?
What a great question. It’s one I’ve been getting a lot from people I know since my apps went on sale.
Thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and the lure of the App Store’s profit potential, there’s plenty of crap floating around promising to teach you how to program for this new platform. Much of it sucks. Thankfully, there’s some gold to be found for iPhone SDK autodidacts. Let’s check it out. More…