Don't "Cursh!" my soul

Don't "Cursh!" my soul
Photo by Mathieu Stern / Unsplash

In 1984, Apple launched a striking, yet somewhat dystopian ad, where they basically asked people not to allow Big Brother (IBM) to control the computer market. The ad evokes a chilling sense of staleness and a future lacking creativity, a monotonous and uniform world. Mac was definitely the cool new kid on the block. You can watch the ad here.

I loved that ad the first time I saw it (around 2013). But then yesterday they released an ad called "Crush!" where they literally crush so many cool tools and instruments in an iPad. I think it's an interesting concept, basically the whole, one device, all the cool stuff. But the word "Crush!" really stayed with me. You can watch the ad here

I wish they used "Compress!" or a similar word instead. The visual of tech "Crushing" the joys of life and giving us their version is sometimes annoying. Even though I get the point, I get the vibe (not really scientific) that tech companies are (1) trying to make us more uniform (2) and (inadvertently) killing craftmanship. I could whine about (1) and some people certainly feel it already, but I think (2) is a less discussed topic. I worry that the idea of being an expert or a craftsman at something is devalued.

I don't consider myself anti-tech or anti-progress in any way, but craftmanship has to be respected regardless. It might be old-school, but I don't want to get all my joy from a compressed device. Beyond Apple or this ad, I worry about induced uniformity in tools and how sacrificing virtual or physical craftsmanship to sell "good enough" products devalues excellence.

It's certainly amazing to give everyone tools at a much cheaper price, for example, a piano app vs a real piano. But this must, somehow, affect the perception of a piano and would negatively impact the craft of making better pianos. In turn, this affects the value of spending years improving the state of the art of a piano. The idea is that getting a piano is way more important than how it sounds.

I'm always in awe of of beautifully made things – excellent pencils, papers, wristwatches, or anything that is a joy to use but technically a computer can do it (much worse). Some of the effect is nostalgia for sure.

Someone on Twitter just reversed the whole ad and made it more beautiful, where the iPad serves as a gateway to all the cool things. Technology is seen as giving unprecedented access as opposed to crushing the tools

In the end, the iPad is a shiny reflection of all the cool things beyond it. By itself, it isn't all that interesting. What would be the point of a nice screen with no apps?! The iPad version is better than 90% of tools out there at a fraction of the price, but I believe we must still protect the top 10% and allow space for improvements. I don't want to live in a mediocre world just because we devalue excellence.

I hope the ad is just a bad ad or it's just Apple, and not where we are headed as a society, a collection of mediocre work and products that are easy to distribute and generate faster revenue.

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