Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Inside the Walled Garden: an Angry Nerd

If you spend any time on the internet at all, you already know that nerds today are even more riled up than usual. Yes, the cheeto-flecked froth that usually surrounds a nerd’s mouth area is thicker and frothier even than usual, all thanks to a little thing known as the iPad.

You might think that they’d be delighted to have a slate computing offering from Apple, who are famous for their attention to interface and form factor design, and who are riding high on the success of their iPod and iPhone offerings right now.

Instead, nerds are literally spewing diatribes with an intensity that they normally reserve for correcting people on the use of the word “literally”.

Nerd culture is a strange landscape, it must be said. They are typically highly intelligent people, but also suffer from a crippling comprehensive disability known as “youth” or “the twenties”. This condition causes them to have the idealism to believe in the way the world should be without the benefit of age to disabuse them from same. It would be endearing if they weren’t so vocal about it, like a cute puppy who barks too much.

This time their ire is inflated by the iPad’s lack of support of Flash, which is a technology developed by Macromedia and later purchased by Adobe that enabled web sites to become horribly annoying through the use of loading screens, autoplaying music tracks, and moving images. Even though any designer will tell you that these are all ultimately detrimental to the focus of a web site — would you jump in front of a customer entering your real-world store and start blasting music and forcing them to look at a sign? — blinky images and whooshing logos are easy to sell to the people who sign the checks. So, they propagated.

But Flash can also be used to develop games, and games appeal to the nerd set because they offer a measure of success without the need for social skills or proper hygiene. And Flash games offer the advantage of running in your browser window, which means you can play them at work without having to install anything weird.

Apple is famous for limiting access to its products, known sometimes as a “walled garden” approach, and in that spirit the iPad will not allow Flash. It will instead use games and applications developed for the Apple-controlled App Store just like the iPhone does.

Apprently nerds think Apple is so dumb that they’d allow free versions of their most popular apps to be developed in Flash and run for free on the iPad or iPhone, thus hamstringing their App Store revenue.

Sorry, guys! These are the people who invented personal computing, you may recall. Oh, no, I guess you wouldn’t be able to recall that because you weren’t born yet. Well, they did. And they also stayed afloat against one of the greatest monopolies of market share in history, Microsoft’s domination of the PC, office software, and finally the web browser markets.

I don’t want to get into an argument about which side is better, Microsoft or Apple (known in nerd parlance as a “fanboy debate”), but the larger picture is that in the real world, Apple can do whatever it wants with its own products within the limits of the law.

Ultimately they will be judged by the market, and judging by the current state of the iPhone and iPods sales, they’ve kinda got it together.