back to article Death of a commentard: Can the iSlate kill off Web 2.0?

Get rid of the keyboard and a computer changes from an input device to one designed for the consumption of content - ideal for all those whose contribution we'd happily do without. Tablet computers are coming, powered by Apple's much-anticipated entry into the market, but putting a computer onto a slate doesn't just create a …


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  1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    You fool! It'll have a webcam!

    Even in Usenet I hear echoes from people whose online discussion technique consists of making YouTube talking-head videos at each other.

    And these are people you don't necessarily want to look at. Does YouTube have a no-picture option because I don't see this working alongside pornography...

  2. Bilgepipe

    Even the iSlate isn't THAT powerful

    Can the iSlate really overcome the desire for Twatter and Farcebook users to pimp themselves online?

    Take a look at - that is the level of stupidity you're talking about here, and I doubt the iSlate can overcome it.

    I hope I'm wrong though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      What's the difference?

      The stuff highlighted on is not that different to some of the guff that slips through the net here.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Soft keyboard not a barrier

    The iphone/touch and presumably islate (or whatever it will be called) has a reasonable soft keyboard so it won't prevent people using it.

    It won't stop Journotards having their ego bruised that's for sure.

  4. RainForestGuppy
    Thumb Down

    Compaq TC1000

    Sorry but my old Compaq was the best of both worlds.

    It may have been a bit of a clunky processor, but you could remove the keyboard and it was a nice 11 inch screened media tablet. Click the keyboard back on and it was a laptop.

    If HP could have developed it to be touch screen rather then dedicated stylus, it would have been the full deal.

    Bored by all this talk of islates, nothing new to see here.

    (Written on my Lenovo Tablet PC with touch screen, but not as portable as the TC1000).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Try this on for size:

      <plug> The Touchbook </plug>

      No affiliation, but a vested interest in seeing things like it succeed, for x86 must die.

  5. boz0

    Sorry ...

    ... can't comment, I don't have a keyboard.

    Oh, and what of PEBKAC w/o a keyboard? :)

    1. gizmo23

      Better acronym

      Don't use PEBKAC, use PICNIC: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.

  6. Alan 8


    The end of loser-generated content? If Only.

    Lol Irony!

  7. Allen Leo
    Jobs Halo

    Happy are the days

    If only this comes to pass. There are very few sites with comments worth reading. Most, especially tech sites are filled with fanboi rants..The reg is one of the few sites with comments worth reading as some people here know what they are talking about! Youtube on the other hand makes me wish for a day ruled by a tablet

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      El Reg is the only commentary I bother to read

      Same reason - alternative viewpoints and opinions which are usually salient and literate enough to be useful.

      I consider YouTube's comments like adsense - something I can just do without. There doesn't seem to be a "hide comments" option, you could - I guess - filter only "excellent" comments. But the easiest way? Don't bother to scroll down.

      Oh, and for the record, there has only been ONE thing on YouTube that I felt deserved a comment. I don't habitually comment on "what I've just watched". I don't bother to even read the comments! The video is good or the video is crap. Comments of what other people thought won't change what I thought.

      I can hold my hand up and say I have NEVER been to Twitter. All I've heard, only gives more reasons not to go. If you don't like the the commentard, don't read. It's like El Reg, you can read the stories without clicking on the commentary link. If you can't exercise the self control to simply avoid the stuff you know you won't like, simply put your DSL unit back in its box and send it back to where it came from.

      The commentard is, however, slowly changing the world. Sure, loads of it is dross. But it is our dross. Our view of the world. Which you might notice is slightly at odds with those running the show. Who would you have more faith in? A fellow commentard who points out a few links to back up his point that <insert hot topic> is bogus, or another politician spinning the same old lies? Loaded question.

      Let's here it for the commentard. You can blacklist Twitter in your router so you never wind up there my mistake. You can wave your middle finger at the fanbois while skipping right past their droolings. Then you can write your own post. Or not. Its up to you. For all that you are reading on this page is the result of commentards.

      Funny, I think with us there's a lot of lunacy in the Wired (re. again practically any comment on Youtube).

      But without us? It'd be kinda lonely. Quiet. Empty. Sterile. Dead.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I use my iPhone to post on Twitter and Facebook all the time. In fact since I got my iPhone my Facebook activity has increased. Ok, I don't tend to comment on YouTube vids much, but I tend to do a lot on my iPhone that I otherwise would have done on my laptop. All using the (tiny) soft keyboard.

  9. Ashley Stevens

    Most of what people type in comments is rubbish.......including this probably

    There are other ways to express one's opinion of something than just typing a comment. A rating can be given by a slider as a percentage, or by a choice of from 1 to 5 stars etc. In fact, these measures are in many ways better since they can easily be interpreted and collated by software to create an "overall rating" which is not so easy with a comment. Thus they contribute more, not less, to the overall wisdom of the Web 2.0.

    Anyway, most of what people type in comments is rubbish anyway. Including this......probably.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have nothing of value to say here

    but MUST... COMMENT....

  11. Adam 10

    lol kbds suk 4evr txtspk ftw!!!

    I suspect we'll just see more "txt spk" all over the net. Some commentards even resort to it when they have a proper keyboard, so a touchpad "virtual keyboard" will just make it more common.

    How long until Internet Explorer incorporates that FireFox plug-in that hides all the idiot-speak from Youtube etc?

  12. peter 5 Silver badge

    It will still be capable of input...

    I like the argument. But it will still be an input device: there'll be a virtual keyboard or it will be capable of handwriting recognition. So while the temptation to input might be diminished, it will still be there. And iff it does voice recognition, then the temptation to yell a comment will increase ten-fold...

    (There are no comments as I type this. So apologies if I'm the ten-zillionth person to note this.)

  13. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Happy are the days

    I can't wait for the day when comments are silenced. Then I'll be free to pursue my dream of opening a cake shop in Penrith (one that serves fine wine, obviously).

    1. Gareth Gouldstone
      Thumb Up

      Please make your last post ...

      ... the address of said Cake and Wine Emporium.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Doing my absolute best

      ..not to spew tedious quotes.

      It's impossible to entirely resist, however:

    3. Marcus Aurelius

      Sarah Bee and the Register

      Is always a good vendor of fine Whines....

  14. Dirk Vandenheuvel

    New types of content

    People will just find other ways to "share" their nonsense with the planet. Pictures/movies or worse (?).

  15. Kenny Millar

    Have you not noticed....

    ...that apple have been shrinking the size of physical keyboards too?

    They are on the way out mate!

  16. Lockwood

    "Tablet computers are coming"

    Again, Apple have created a new concept.

    A tablet computer!

    Hmm. What was that pen input computer I was using yesterday with the detachable keyboard? It couldn't be a tablet, Apple haven't released those yet!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      A Newton?

      Or was it an eMate?


  17. Anonymous Coward

    Mobility + Touch + FBook + Twitter = more interaction

    Hmmm.... i dont agree wit the premise of this piece at all. Mobile devices with limited text input whether they be iPhone's, iSlates or any other brand of mobile phone are certainly not for writing a novel on but they are perfect for tapping the brief chunks of text needed to interact with your mates anywhere you happen to be. Everyone that I know that has a such a mobile device is using services like FaceBook/Twitter more than ever before...and there doing that in the bus queue, on the train & down the pub!

    Look at how the limited none ascii keyboards on mobiles have not in anyway got in the way of the immense volume of text messages tapped out each day... this is the metric you need to look at for these new devices.

  18. The Vociferous Time Waster
    Dead Vulture


    Really? Does El Reg just publish *anything* that's submitted to it? What a vapid pile of crap; the iCanvas/iSlate/iTablet won't change the way people interact with their computer because it won't be a computer, it'll be a tablet device that is little more than a scaled up iPod Touch.

    The tablet PC was a really bad idea and has failed on numerous occasions because manufacturers tried to shrink the whole of the PC down into a tablet form factor and sell it as a computer. The iPhone/Touch were scaled up from a PDA with a few more features squeezed in so you got a consumer electronics device that worked like a small tablet. It wasn't ever marketed as a computer.

    If Apple position their tablet as a computer then they'll fail miserably because people will complain about the lack of the keyboard and the fact that it doesn't do everything that a computer does. If they position it as a media device where they can consume media (ebooks, films, music to a lesser extent) and slap on some applications as a side thing then it's just a large screen version of the iphone/touch and will do well with a certain sector of the market (the twats).

    It's the same problem that smart phones have. If you put in a keyboard people expect it to be a computer but if you put on a touch screen you have a phone that does some clever things. Windows Mobile is a retarded idea for that very same reason, people see Windows and are too dumb to understand that they can't do everything as well as they can on their desktop.

    All this still makes it irrelevant to how we interact with the computer because it will always be the lesser functioned little brother of the desktop and the laptop and most likely bought as an addition to, rather than a replacement for, a proper computer.

    Oh, shit, I just wrote several pages of nonsense. Maybe if I pad it out with some apple/google hate I can get myself an El Reg staffer job.

    1. Iggle Piggle

      I popped around to see some friends recently

      and they had some wonderful new apple device the size of a nice flat screen TV but with a keyboard parked in front of it and next to that a mouse. The entire guts of the computer were built into the screen. Now this is not exactly new. It was running some media centre stuff and playing music while we looked through their holiday snapshots.

      Now suppose it was a bit smaller and had a touch screen. Suppose the monitor had a fold out bracket or even a docking station bracket for the charger, keyboard, and mouse. It would have been really nice not to have to huddle around the desk in the corner where the device was parked but instead could all sit of the couch and use the device.

      However I agree that the tablet idea is a recurrent theme that does not really have a good market. As you said the first thing anyone wants to do is attach a proper keyboard (because typing on the screen is so slow and gives no feedback) and a mouse (because touching the screen makes it filthy). So it means that if the tablet is your main computer then you are bound to want to take a keyboard with you. In that case why not connect the keyboard to the screen using a handy hinge so that the keyboard also doubles as a screen protector when not in use and perhaps add a touch pad and ... oh wait that's a laptop.

  19. <Hello World>

    I read this on my jesus phone...

    whilst watching the terror-vision!

  20. Andrew James

    errrr... no.

    "Removing the keyboard from the front of the internet might just let consumers get back to consuming while producers produce."

    They're not removing the keyboard from the front of the internet. They're essentially taking the keyboard and superglueing it onto the bottom half of the monitor... with an option to make it invisible when you want to consume, and show it again when you want to comment about what you just finished consuming.

    How is this going to change anything at all?

  21. JeffShortland

    I'm not convinced..

    I find the first statement a bit .. misleading..

    regardless of what you take away, a computer is still a device which requires input.. and while I can see the arguement you're making in regards to the trend of people watching content more than creating it, I can't fully agree - Granted, compared to 10, 15, 20 years ago, the types of content, and the way we view it have.

    look at it this way; there are far more machines available, and being used in homes, work, schools, factories, stores, ect ect today than ever, and in most aspects, the type of work they do hasn't changed, just the way they acomplish them. Sure, kids and university students will waste their 1000$-2000$ machines to FB and play farmville, but just as many of those students will be blogging, trolling forums, and finding new ways to make absolute rubish hilarious on the internet. Look at the exponential increase in meme's on the internet over the last decade, look at sites like 4chan (shudders)... this stuff isn't going the way of the T-Rex, it's just getting started.

    at my apartment, we have 3 lappy's, 4 desktops and 2 ipod touches/iphones. each device gets used alot each day, and all for different things, but it doesn't take away from any of the individual devices.

    Bah, this is almost turning into a rant, but to summize; so long as there is a medium, content and commentary will be created - it may not always be the same as it's predocessors, but it will be there.

    On my iPhone 3GS

  22. James Hughes 1

    What I want from this (or similar)

    Is something akin to a tablet remote control, that can sit next to me whilst sitting down in the living room watching TV, or having a conversation. It can change channels on the TV, or stream video/audio to its own display, or browse the net, or give TV listings I can search then send to my PVR for recording (or PC). iPlayer would be good. Maybe play games. Maybe connect to my land line phone and Skype. So I when i want something internetty (browse, Skype, Games etc), I don't have to get up, go in to the next room, start up a PC/laptop - its there in an easy to use format right next to me.

    A tablet seems to be just the job. A net book would also fit the bill, but I think a touch screen would be a better option.

    However, I can predict this device will be way too expensive for that task. Needs to be the price of a low end netbook.

  23. MinionZero

    @Bill Ray and this article

    I don't know what to make of this article. Its like something between a reporters wet dream, of the end of user generated content leaving only reporters speaking to the masses, combined with some kind of sycophantic PR pitch for Apple Tablet computers. As for Keyboards are dead attitude, yeah right, heard it all before.

    Plus as for "What could be more natural than making a comment on the film you've just watched?"

    I would suggest its more natural not wasting my time adding a comment that will be buried in 10 seconds by 1000 other comments, half of which are meaningless juvenile attention seeking rubbish. The 2.0 web doesn't need my thoughts on every bloody moment of my life and hell will freeze over before I share every thought I have with the web, let alone suffer the corporations who are eagerly working to find ways to profile my every bloody word.

    As for "very absence of a physical reminder converts the user into a consumer of content rather than an active participant."

    There's more options in life than just passive "consumer" zombie and attention seeking "active participant" superficial sheeple.

    How about actually making something via a computer?! ... e.g. writing a letter or a book, painting a picture, editing photos & videos, programming, making music, editing cad style designs to help make something in the real world, etc.. Computers are after all tools! ... This article portrays computers as little more than an interactive notice board!. If that is the only superficial aspect of computers you can see, then you are in the wrong job.

    As for "Desktop and laptop computers are ill-suited to the consumption of content"

    Again sounding like an advert for Tablet computers. Just because my PC has a keyboard, I don't have to use it! Also your pitch for Tablet computers sounds like its designed as a sheepleware product. Don't think people, we your content providers will feed you with content. You make consumers sound like cows!. Feed the cows and then milk them for money and yet more marketing information, so you can find more ways to feed them! Sit back and consume and we will feed you content. It sounds like the Wall-e style Dystopia! Feed consumers, feed more, feeding is good, don't ever unplug, tell us what you want us to feed you.

    "It would be optimistic to suggest that the blogosphere will cease to exist"

    *optimistic* ?! ... thats more of this its good to feed consumers attitude. I'm sure some in the media and in marketing would love the idea of no more user content, only company chosen content to feed to consumers.

    Pass another marshmallow, before the flames on this article finally die down. ;)

  24. Campbeltonian

    The keyboard is not the problem

    It's not the keyboard that prevents me from tapping out comments on my iPhone, it's the size of the screen. I find the keyboard perfectly adequate, and with the presence of auto-correction it even encourages me to write using proper English.

    The problem is the screen real-estate. On my phone I can't even see my whole comment, never mind the text that I'm replying to. With a tablet-sized screen, I'm more likely to comment, not less.

    And yes, I find the whole concept of commenting on this article somewhat ironic.

  25. Adam T

    If it walks like a duck...

    Replace the physical keyboard with a touchscreen keyboard, it's still a ... keyboard.

    I've only seen one article about the iPhone-cum-tablet, which was mostly about the iPhone really, and that came courtesy of Gizmodo.

    Actually the article was 90% bollocks, but the good part was about Jef Raskin who pretty much foresaw the iPhone, as an information appliance.

    This isn't the death of Web 2.0 unless it's the start of Web 3.0. Detaching the browser in favour of applications; or information appliances if you like.

    Even that's bollocks, because any alternative input is just an alternative. Keyboards aren't going anywhere until we have implants and telepathic-like abilities, and everyone lives in a world designed by Peter F. Hamilton (e-butlers/u-shadows, fans will recognise).

    Talk about hype overtaking common sense.

  26. jai


    i think you underestimate the consumers

    granted, you're old and these new-fangled gizmos are confusing to you and if you can't find the keyboard straight away you get worried and confused and have to get a cup of Horlicks and a bit of a lie down

    but your demographic doesn't count for toffee any more

    the real consumers are the kids and the teens and those fresh out of college/uni earning their first wages and wanting to spend it on bright shiny things to watch bright shiny bites of entertainment that won't tax their short attention spans

    and they're smart enough to work out how to input on a soft keyboard and won't complain that the lack of tactile feed back is disturbing because they have no nostalgia for the rubbery zx spectrum keyboard to sound of a reed switch clicking

    they are ones who's opinion counts in the new age of computer use, not dinosaurs like yourself

  27. RMartin

    Fly sgrwe

    i FUly aGre###

    Sent from my Archos 5 using a touch screen.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tablet PCs

    (outside of a very small niche) Have failed consistently for years, but now that Apples making one it's going to change the world?

    Yeah right.

    Far superior are the laptop/tablet convertibles that have a screen which will swivel round and then shut on top of the keyboard making it a tablet when you want a tablet, and a laptop when you want a laptop. But are those popular at all? No.

    So why would doing away with the keyboard and adding a tacky unintuitive soft keyboard make it any better? Oh yeah, because it has an Apple logo on the back so it must be good.

    But it's okay because the tablet is now for consuming content! What a great idea, a really small TV that you have to hold in your hands! It'll be just like those crap portable TVs that also failed consistently. Joy to the world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem with Tablet PCs is that they are trying to be PCs

      That is why they have failed. Running a PC OS (and a truly crap one - Windows - at that) just isn't suited to the format. That is why Apple *might* succeed where others have failed; because they are willing to forgo the notion that it has to look like and function like a desktop PC.

      The iPhoneOS (and WebOS and Android) clearly demonstrates that you don't need a traditional PC designed OS to make a hugely functional yet damned easy to use device. To do 90% of what 99% of people do with their PCs you don't need ever need to see a file hierarchy, you don't need a desktop metaphor, you don't need bloated, clunky office apps, etc. Apple have the opportunity here to finally make that "computer for the rest of us" (the computer illiterate) that the Mac was originally meant to be. However, I suspect that it'll fall short in some way and, most significantly, in the same way as the first Mac... in price. It'll most likely be too expensive to be for "the rest of us".

  29. Andy Enderby 1


    "it changes how we perceive and interact with computers, and that's going to fundamentally change the internet itself."

    It's still a computer. Try some critical thinking and stop simply regurgitating what Apple tell you to. "It will change the internet itself" ? For fucks sake guys, Apple have their own marketing department and don't need you chaps to do their job for them. Further, tablets have been done by others, all this will be is another tablet, with some nice design features.

    Change the internet my hairy arse.

  30. Scott 1

    Who is Tylr Drdn?

    Methinks it be time for a fight club sequel. This time "Jack" should be a frustrated blogger/journalist with a penchant for buying into every new meme and fad gadget produced.

  31. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Sarah Bee and the Register

    I see what you did there.

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Re: Sarah Bee and the Register

      I noticed that you noticed.

  32. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    No keyboard =/= no input

    I use Twitter on my iPhone all the time. And Facebook - the advantage there being a lot of communication is non-text based; adding a photo or clicking 'I like this!' doesn't exactly require a keyboard.

    And write emails on my Blackberry Storm. (although - to be fair - if it's a long email I compose it on the iPhone and forward it to the Storm, as it's keyboard is diabolical in comparison)

    I think you're making a very early, very unlikely assumption.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Ashley Stevens

    Why the probably. This comment without any probably.

  34. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: underestimate

    I think you meant Da Kidz there.

    Today, whenever I look at how many comments there are in the queue to be moderated, there are 82 or 84 of them. Regardless of how many I've just done. Just saying.

    I guess we need comments on the internet because it gives people jobs - just as we need people who drop litter in the street, if you think about it.

  35. Anonymous Coward



    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)


      From another thread: the commentards have finally made it on to Speak You're Branes. Puff out your pigeon chests with pride folks!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Hehe, great spot, Ms Bee

        And looky here, a whole new strapline: "The Register - An absolutely virtuoso display of misanthropy"

    2. Anonymous Coward

      caps lawk


      or something :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Even with cruise control

        you still have to steer

  36. Britt Johnston

    if you really want interaction to stop....

    enlist the support of polititians. They could come out with a keyboard tax, which would encourage a migration to iphones and slates. They could introduce an upload charge, even a few cents a word would help. With the new funds, they could finance a decent censorship scheme.

  37. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: What's the difference?


  38. Philbradley

    Well done Bill!

    You've not only written something that I'm forced to reply to (hence registering with this creation) it's probably the first thing you've written that I've ever disagreed with 100%.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Given that an iPhone requires a 3 year contract @ $65 for 500MB data/month, I doubt that an iSlate/Pad with a cellphone contract & subscriptions for news pages will make economic sense. I, for one, will be avoiding it.

    1. zerolight

      The iSlate will be a big iPod Touch, and therefore commercially sound!

      Have you considered the possibility that the iSlate will be a large iPod touch, with an *optional* sim card slot? I use my iPod touch primarily as a mini-tablet at home over my wifi network specifically for the "consumption" of the internet. A larger, more powerful alternative would be welcome.

      However, I disagree with the article. I've not found myself less likely to comment or post or whatever when using my iPod - you quickly get used to the rather good soft keyboard. A larger version would only encourage use even more.

      Further, whilst *mobile* versions of youtube may not allow comments, the iPod/iPhone version does - with a great big obvious button, and an rating and commenting interface designed specifically with that OS in mind. Then there's a whole host of Apps designed to make twitter and blogging easier. Heck, twitter really took off when the iPhone came out.

      So yeah, nonsense article. The iSlate, like the iPod and iPhone, will only make these "Web 2.0" apps even more appealing to the masses. I really hate the term "Web 2.0". It's as bad as "FAIL" and should be banned.

  40. Tom Maddox Silver badge


    In any case, nothing will stop a true commentard from spewing ignorant bile into the Intertubes. Nothing.

  41. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    Nobody makes you read them

    Web 2.0 is highly ignorable to most of us... thank goodness.

    Bummer if you're paid to care about what the mob says.

    Paris, for that reason.

  42. John Wojewidka

    Am I a commontard, too?

    People will do what they want, and the technology will allow them to do it. Don't forget, we *need* the yin and yang to move forward.

    It is harder by the day to actively ignore the pure garbage that is the commentsphere. Twitter, by the grace of the God of Bliss, has to be actively engaged. But! Someday, someone will develop an app that blocks comments on sites of the user's own choosing.

    Anyone out there working on this? Please?

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