Media Detector, a New York Times blog, has a post today (6/14/10) about a comic book adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses that Apple is insisting be bowdlerized before it can be turned into an app for the iPad–replacing an image of a bare-breasted "milk lady" with a close-up of her face. While calling Apple's decision "disappointing," artist Robert Berry told Media Detector he
did not feel "remotely censored by Apple." "It's their rules," he said. "We're coming to their dinner party at their house."
When you watch TV on your Sony television, you're not attending a dinner party at Sony's house, at which Sony gets to set the rules. Nor, when you surf the Web on your IBM PC, are you IBM's guests, subject to whatever arbitrary choices IBM wants to make about what you can and cannot see.
If the iPad does become one of the main ways by which people access information and art, as Apple surely hopes, and Apple is able to treat that medium as a private preserve in which free speech rules do not apply, this will distinguish the iPad as a technological advance that is also a democratic retreat.