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Updated: May 11

As a self-confessed Apple fanboy, it is with mixed disappointment and excitement that I watch and ponder their latest ad. The commercial for Apple’s new iPad ‘Crush’ takes a dig at old technology by crushing it under the popular meme of the hydraulic press, reminding us that we have all succumbed to the gradual dematerialization of the physical world. As such, we get upset when we see our parents’ treasured possessions destroyed in CGI. The subsequent outrage of ‘offended’ people, presumably unable to afford or repair such artifacts, was met with a public apology from Apple for ‘missing the mark’ on this one (while secretly chortling to themselves over the publicity it attracted). The 30-second spot is a true moment in our cultural history that reveals our grief over the loss of tactile engagement, using real, tangible things we could hold and look after before our phones took over both our time and our purpose in life.

Fear not, second-hand nostalgic items are indeed obsolete, but the solution does not necessarily lie in 5mm-thin magical tech objects from California or vintage sections of eBay. There are a plethora of makers and designers, like Knobula, who will continue the legacy of building tactile gear with knobs and switches, screenless objects of desire to be coveted by a new generation and possibly tomorrow’s crusher fodder. But today, at least, they offer an escape from the daily drudgery of menu diving and skeuomorphic interfaces, sadly reminding us of what the real thing used to look like. Thanks for pointing it out, Apple. We’re ready and waiting.

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