Over the last decade, the fortunes of Apple Computers shifted dramatically. Arguably, this was not because of incredible advances in technology, clever marketing, or business foresight. In this clip Apple summarizes the secret to its success in the simple suggestion that, "when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful." The substance of Apple's success is not in making technology more visible but in making it invisible, getting it out of the way and out of question.
As technologies grow in ubiquity, they materially pop up in every conceivable location in our lives. But is the ubiquity of technology material or a manifestation of our beliefs? New technologies are everywhere but the ones we use on a daily basis are invisible because we believe them to be indispensible and ordinary, outside of consdieration, ephemeral like the air that we breathe. As is the case of Apple's iPad 2, increasingly technologies are created and marketed as being immaterial, there but invisible, able to get out of the way and let you live your life, only better.
As digital technology use increases across a broad spectrum of human enterprise, it is important to consider not only industrial technology production but also the deep material integration of these technological things into our ordinary lives. If we believe, as Apple suggests that it does, that technology can 'get out of the way' and our analog experiences can be supplemented rather than replaced technologically, then perhaps that is why we no longer see the technologies we use everyday. Believing, after all, is a precondition for how we see.
The invisibility of technology, when it becomes ordinary and outside of the realm of questioning, is a dangerous thing. One can see this in the feeling of being left behind if we own a computer that is one or two generations out of currency. Producers build new systems and software that do not work with the material technologies that we bought just recently. To remain current we throw away these material objects, we get them out of the way, and make room for the new at an increasing pace. Landfills are bursting to the seams with material technologies that, already invisible and 'out of the way,' are quickly forgotten once the next big thing rolls through. A critical balance must be found between believing in technology and maintaining a viable material future.