Ben Adida has an interesting blog post up about freedom to tinker and the iPad. I wrote a comment there in response that I'll post here in case I want to update it further.
Ben laments some of the lack of tinkering/hacking capability in the iPad. I said:
Cars are an interesting comparison technology. It used to be that *everyone* had to be a car tinkerer because they just didn't run right and keep running by themselves. You learned how to do maintenance, how to tweak, adjust, etc. And then we put in catalytic converters and to make sure you guaranteed emissions we stopped you from mucking around with timing, etc. We got rid of carburetors and replaced them with fuel injectors. We got rid of timing belts and camshafts and went to electronic valves. We removed a lot of the tinkerable parts. We killed a lot of the innovation in that space. We also reduced auto pollution a ton and made cars safer.
Was it a good tradeoff? Are there fewer auto mechanics than there used to be because of this? Have we lost something fundamental to our culture and society?
I don't know the answer.