from the world's big
Apple’s App Store Is a "Warehouse of S**t"
David Heinemeier Hansson is a Danish programmer and the creator of the Ruby on Rails open source web development framework. He is also a partner with Jason Fried at the web-based software development firm 37signals. In 2005 he was given with the Hacker of the Year by Google and O'Reilly award for his creation of Ruby on Rails. He and Fried have also co-authored the New York Times bestseller "Rework," which reveals their secrets for boosting business productivity in the Internet age.
Question: What do you make of Apple’s mandate that all apps for iOS devices be written in specific languages?
David Hansson: Apple really let me down, personally. I take personal offense when they started mandating that there are only certain languages and certain platforms that you can use to develop iPhone and iPad apps. It just seemed like such a—and I am overstating this and I know that that's sort of not helpful for the debate, but I can't help it—fascist move. It seemed entirely unnecessary to exert that level of control. To force people into that. Because the fact is, they're winning on their merits. Control and heavy-handed operations like that is something you do when you're desperate. That's something somebody backed into a corner would do. That's something, we used to think that was the stuff that Microsoft pulled and everybody was up in arms about that. We already love Apple! We love Apple on their merits, because they produce superior hardware and software. Why can't they just be confident that we'll continue to do that and if their tools are so wonderful and so magical, of course, people will use them. I find it just absolutely offensive that they would want to dictate, to enter the Magic Apple Kingdom, you can only speak German, no Frenchmen allowed here. Like that just seems—why?
I mean, I read the supposed reasons for why this would happen, oh, if we allowed cross-platformed tools then only shitty applications will be made, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Have you so little faith in the marketplace? Have you so little faith in the great native applications winning? Why can't you just see what happens, so if people create cross-platform applications and put them out and they're shitty, nobody will use them, nobody will buy them. It just seems like such an insecure move. And I also think it's incredibly ironic when you look at what Apple does themselves. When they released iTunes for Windows, did they follow all the Microsoft standards, did they use Microsoft development tools? No they didn't. They brought over their cross-platform stuff and they made iTunes work on Windows because of that. And sometimes that's what you do. Apple probably wouldn't have done iTunes, or I don't know, maybe they wouldn't have done it as fast if they had to build it from scratch, even though that from scratch would've been better because iTunes on Windows is supposedly sort of a shitty experience.
And there are plenty of other examples of applications that are great cross-platform applications. Firefox, for example, the majority of the code basis is cross-platform and it's a wonderful application. LightRoom from Adobe is a great application, it works great on multiple platforms. So if great applications can be created, then why would you shut those out just because it's also possible to create shitty stuff?
And now, sort of, I don't know, third or the fourth point against this, the app store is already full of shitty software. There are 200 or 300,000 applications in there. Do you think that they are all creampuffs? That they're all wonderful pieces of unique, beautiful software? No, they're not. Tons of them are just shitty crap. So the argument that Apple is doing this to increase the quality of the app store just falls flat when you look at all the junk that's already in the app store. This is not a carefully selected gallery, this is just a warehouse of shit. So don't give me that.
I think what happens here is power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And just as well, market share corrupts, and absolute market share corrupts absolutely. Apple enjoys incredible market share of smart phones with the iPhone. So they can do stupid shit without it costing them everything and they can perceive that because we can, because we're able to force people to work this way, that's a good thing. That's a very short-sighted approach to things. Remember, that's how Apple came into be. The Apple camp is full of Microsoft refugees, people who were tired of being haunted by Microsoft, tired of being forced and controlled into certain ways of working.
It might work in the short term, but it doesn't seem like a long-term play to me. And again, it seems like such an unnecessary thing to do! When you already have the greatest stuff in the world, you don't need to do this stuff. So it was just a massive let down from a company I otherwise love. Which is why it stings double. If it was just somebody I didn't care about, didn't give a shit about, then who cares? This is Apple. This is the same Apple where I frequently cherish their products so much. Like, I really love so much of the stuff that they're putting out that it hurts double bad when they're doing stupid things like this.
Question: Do you see this and the iPhone 4 antenna fiasco as chinks in Apple’s armor?
David Hansson: I think that Apple currently is so good at what it does, so good at the hardware design, so good at the vertical integration of making everything just work, that they will survive this. Unfortunately, because I think that that's sort of the, it's the pros and the cons of this. Like on the one hand, they create so much wonderful stuff, that when they screw up in these minor ways, it doesn't hurt them enough for them to take the true lessons away from this. I don't think that Apple really thinks any differently of mandating these tools to people, say, you have to develop iPhone and iPad applications in these ways. This sting that came from the uproar of developers saying, "This is bullshit, we are walking out," is just not big enough, which is a damn shame.
Which is also way, sort of related to that, the whole iPhone 4 antenna-gate thing, was very interesting to watch. For a long time, they just didn’t give a damn. Bloggers would claim, like shout about it, or other publications would shout about it, nah, nah, nah, it's all isolated case, and then boom! Something hit them really hard, that Consumer Reports thing. And then all of a sudden, oh, wait, maybe it did matter, maybe we should address this. And it didn't even matter for the marriage, because for the marriage, I think there's not a big issue. The iPhone 4 antenna is just fine and I'll take the trade off of sort of better reception and then I can't hold it in a certain way. In some ways, that's exactly what I love about Apple. I love that Apple is willing to make controversial trade offs, because they're willing to say, "All right, fine, we'll increase the reception of this phone, if you just don't hold it in this one way." I actually find that's awesome! I just would've found it slightly more awesome if they would've owned up to it and just said, "Damn, that's how it is, because that's how it works."
Just like with the, I remember with the Macbook error when that came out. No internal CD drive? How is this possible? How can I use a computer that doesn't have that? Well, it's a trade-off. If you want a computer that's so slim that it almost looks like a piece of paper, then you have to give up stuff. I love that. I love those controversial trade-offs. I just don't, I don't love how they went about the iPhone thing, just seemed very PR-driven in the negative sense of that word, and I certainly don't like the way they went about the iPhone developer kit. But none of these things are going to kill Apple. If they continue to rock as they are now, nothing is going to catch them any time soon. And I think that's a shame, I would wish that Apple had better competition. Even the Android stuff now, which is getting pretty good on a lot of levels, is still nasty in so many levels. It's still so poorly designed as a coherent experience. They have these peaks of glory, but the whole package is just, I wouldn't want that phone. And I'm kind of sad about that. I wish Apple had more credible competition that would prevent them from doing the stupid shit that they're doing.
Recorded July 22, 2010
Interviewed by Peter Hopkins
Hansson loves Apple’s products, but he calls their decision to restrict programming languages for iPhone apps a "fascist move."
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Paul Krugman on the Virtues of Selfishness<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7ZtAkm6C" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="828936bf6953080e9018307354c0c02b"> <div id="botr_7ZtAkm6C_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7ZtAkm6C-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> The Nobel Prize-winning economist on the virtues of selfishness.
Evolution Is Moving Us Away from Selfishness. But Where Is It Taking ...<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cyeqmYCb" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="6c5efecb56456e9acc25cf36935b1826"> <div id="botr_cyeqmYCb_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cyeqmYCb-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Exploring Morality and Selfishness in Modern Times<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="02eX1Cag" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="45cc6180db791f32683988fb52faff26"> <div id="botr_02eX1Cag_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/02eX1Cag-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> Philosopher Peter Singer discusses the state of global ethics.
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Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.
- Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
- "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
- In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.