Of iPhone Flutes, Digital Generativity, and Bongs

by on November 14, 2008 · 9 comments

During my recent debate with Jonathan Zittrain about his book The Future of the Internet, I argued that there was just no way to bottle up digital generativity and that he had little to fear in terms of the future of the Net or digital devices being “sterile, tethered,” and closed. I noted that the iPhone — which Jonathan paints as the villain in his drama — is the perfect example of how people will make a device more generative even when the manufacturers didn’t originally plan for it or allow it. I went so far as to joke that there were countless ways to hack your iPhone now, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if one day soon our iPhones would be taking out the trash and mowing our lawns!

Well, I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole there, but I am consistently amazed by what people can make their digital devices do. Witness the fact that some enterprising soul has found a way to turn the iPhone into a flute! Better yet, they have trained a group to play “Stairway to Heaven” using that application!! It’s enough to make one wonder: How long before someone converts the iPhone into a bong?

[Uttered to JZ in my best stoner voice…] “Seriously, dude, generativity is alive and well. Now chill, and pass the iBong.”

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