When the iPad was released this past year, to much fanfare and millions of sales, a lot was said about how Alan Kay’s vision of the Dynabook had finally come to pass. (Well, some people said Jobs stole the idea from Kay, but most people just trumpeted that the future was finally here…)
And yes, there are a lot of similarities between Kay’s Dynabook and Apple’s iPad. Portability, price, the uses for creative expression, etc. But there is one thing missing. Kay’s Dynabook had 12 year old novice programmers creating new programs for it! In fact, that was one of the best parts for me about Kay’s essay “Personal Dynamic Media”, that a kid was able to use the Dynabook to make it do things she wanted to do – in order to create the things she wanted to create.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with the iPad, as Wired magazine reported back in April. (By the way, the app that is mentioned in that article that was removed from the Apple Store is an app for Scratch, which looks like a really interesting program…)
Has Kay’s Dynabook been reincarnated by the iPad? I think the answer is no.