Wozniak's model for the computer is an almost entirely passive one, based on what the radio "brought" the user, the magical moments of feeling connected to other places and other lives simply by turning on the device, tuning in to a particular station, and dropping out of engagement with one's present surroundings. This ethos permeates Apple's culture, and Jobs early fixation on John Sculley and his work identifying and exploiting the Baby Boomer generation as one that would be best marketed to in terms of identity consumption was a clear byproduct. Apple products don't make new things possible, they make old things accessible in new places, this was the magic of the transistor radio, and it's the magic of the iPhone and the Macbook Air and everything else Apple does. The company's famed emphasis on industrial design, with expensive components that drive the price of its products into the realm of aspirational purchasing, where a few immaculately crafted products mask all the grotesque inefficiencies that computers and networking have brought into other areas of life, from impenetrable walls of corporate bureaucracy to the wild flourishing of identity theft.

Jobs was right, that people don't usually understand what is happening when they're pushed to move forward, but the reluctance that lack of understanding produces can be illuminating. It was not luddism to want to hold onto an old paradigm of computer technology that supported clearly delineated boundaries between computer and non-computer time, and which gave concrete physical objects to consecrate the opening and closing of one's work with a computer. It was an instinctual statement about the kind of life people wanted to live, which was coming into conflict with the kind of life a computer manufacturer wanted people to lead. Apple's success as a company for the last four decades has hinged on a magical ability to win that argument whenever it's come up, to have people accept pacifying new uses of technology that transform the computer from a discrete object to an irreplaceable access point, the benefits of which have never been especially clear. But in every case where conflict arises, the Apple trump card has been sensual. Even if carrying a mobile computer everywhere leads to as many new problems as it solves, it sure feels nice to run my finger across this smooth, cool glass. I guess I could do that forever.

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