On April 5th, I took possession of a device that still in many ways baffles my mind and creates a sense of wonder within all that behold it’s simplistic form and complex abilities.
Throughout the years mankind has engaged the minds of many to create tools and machine that would allow them to work, understand, communicate, be entertained by and create objects that advance our civilizations.
Recently, Apple Inc. released a device that they repeatedly claim is Magical and Revolutionary!
When I un-boxed the popular Apple iPad device, I kept thinking about how the word magical was a bad choice for marketing lingo. I get it, why it would be used, but my skeptical mind kept pushing back on it a bit.
The definition of magic describes many meanings in our popular culture:
I readily identify myself as a skeptic, and as such, I have found myself jumping to conclusions that I should not. I am careful to always mention in discussions about being a skeptic, that it doesn’t mean that I’m a cynic. …Though sometime I catch myself being just that.
the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces : do you believe in magic? | suddenly, as if by magic, the doors start to open.
• mysterious tricks, such as making things disappear and appear again, performed as entertainment.
• a quality that makes something seem removed from everyday life, esp. in a way that gives delight : the magic of the theater.
• informal something that has such a quality : their seaside town is pure magic.
1 used in magic or working by magic; having or apparently having supernatural powers : a magic wand.
• [ attrib. ] very effective in producing results, esp. desired ones : confidence is the magic ingredient needed to spark recovery.
2 informal wonderful; exciting : what a magic moment.
I’m a techno junkie, and now an acknowledged Apple Fan-boy. Simply, I have found that for the majority of the work that I do on a daily basis, the products that Apple has made, have contributed to a more enjoyable, efficient and rewarding experience in those tasks. So, if Apple make the stuff I like and enjoy, I’ll continue to use their products. I look at these devices as tools, no more, no less.
I was literally counting down the days until my Apple iPad arrived several weeks ago. I couldn’t wait to see how the experience of this piece of technology would transform my experience of working with technology. But, “magical”? Ugh, c’mon! It sounds so hocus-pocus, and is apt to turn people off to it, I thought. I want this to succeed so that others follow and push the envelope of technology as Apple has. Call it magical and people are going to expect it vanish ladies and make rabbits appear!
Then an amazing thing happened. After the first week of “It’s so incredible” finally started to become more like “wow, I can do that too!?”, I got back down to business with this new tablet device in my daily workflow. If we strictly define magic as it’s stated above, the iPad, (and by that account, probably many other pieces of technology in our daily lives) could be said to be truly magical.
Certainly by it’s appearance, it COULD be held as magical. If I was handed an iPad in say, 1950 for example, would I not think that a glowing interactive device that is a mere ½” thick, makes no noise, does not get warm and consists of a smooth aluminum, case and shiny glass top was not a magical device, or maybe an artifact from an alien world? Though, admittedly, getting a WiFi signal in 1950 might prove a bit difficult.
Applying the definition above to this device, one could honestly say that it’s magic. The only element that pulls it from what we skeptics understand as magic would be the simple fact that we know that it is a manufactured piece of technology not from the future or alien beings even.
If we didn’t know this fact, how could we then, separate this from magic?
As our technology advances further and further, its becomes more and more difficult to rationalize with our individual minds how the things it can do are even possible. Arthur C. Clarke posits in his Third Law of Prediction: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Mr. Clarke, so right you are. While I continue to inform myself and try to inform others of the REAL world of wonder and amazement separated from the false, and misleading in our lives, I will keep my little iPad tucked safely under my arm, and realize, that maybe, magic is real after all.
All of this is to say that, I and others should not be so quick to dismiss, but rather should re-direct the point of view in which we analyze things. Maybe we need to continually update and re-evaluate how we interpret the common language used in our world, and the gut-reactions that we skeptics come to infer from it.
Our skepticism can be a much more open and accepting world-view.
If we let it.