iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?
It came up in conversation the other day that Apple has started to remove books from their iBook collection because of sexual content. While I don't see a lot of advantage to the iPad over a tablet PC, the advantage of the iPad over the Kindle is the graphics, and Apple's decision to ban content where, for example there's a gay kiss, doesn't bode well for the company that presents itself as the avant-garde epicenter of creativity.
Apple's agreement says: Applications (for apps) may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.
My problem with this is the extremely subjective nature of 'objectionable' and in particularly, 'defamatory.' Sure, the Internet is a cesspool of porn and YouTube videos of people doing horrible things to themselves and others, but creativity is defined by the very lack of definition -- Michelangelo had to creep around in the middle of the night eviscerating corpses to learn about anatomy because Church bans on exploring the human body. Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Oscar Wilde…
We have many interpretations the First Amendment in this country, and while publishers have always had the option to decline works, there are other publishers you can shop your work to. What concerns me isn't just the idea of censorship, but the idea of a single corporation controlling so much information and then applying censorship based on shareholder interests.
Apple now controls 69% of the music market. So far as I understand, they don't censor individual works, but it's hard to say what kinds of deals they've struck with the music producers. Steve Jobs has said that Apple has 22% of the eBook market already, and if they become the reader of choice, killing the Kindle and the Sony collection of eReaders, we're suddenly looking at something a lot more important than a battle of platforms.
We're looking at Steve Job's face in the big screen in their 1984 Superbowl ad…