Lawrence Lessig

Apple lifts its Jobsian veil of secrecy - just a bit - on iWork

November 6, 2013: 6:21 PM ET

Issues list of upcoming features. Gets thank you note from Harvard's most famous Netizen.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 5.57.18 PMFORTUNE -- Was it only Monday that we posted Lawrence Lessig's critique of Apple's (AAPL) "pathologically constipated" customer relations?

Well, today is Wednesday, two days later. Apple has done something very un-Apple-like about the issues he raised. And now Lessig has posted a public thank you titled "Wow, Apple. Wonderful news." Would that all such complaints were so easily resolved.

What's it all about? Here's the background.

Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law and long-time Internet activist, was upset that features he'd come to depend on were unceremoniously removed from the latest version of iWork.

But what really ticked him off -- and what caught our eye -- was his complaint that the company, still stuck in Steve Jobs' mindset of obsessive secrecy, didn't have the "decency" to tell customers scrambling to find workarounds which of those features were gone for good and which were coming back.

We can't be sure what prompted it, but early Wednesday Apple posted a support document explaining why the iWork features were removed, listing which ones it would be adding back, and telling customers who preferred the old version of iWork where they could find it on their Macs.

"In other words," Lessig wrote, "Apple's found its voice."

"This is a great news. Computer systems are wildly too complicated today to expect that updates will be seemless. So opening a channel of communication is an easy way to reduce the cost of unseemlessness (or whatever word that would be.)

"Thank you, Apple."

Apple's been on communications tear lately. On Tuesday it issued a report on government requests for information -- including from the National Security Agency -- that we're likely to be hearing about for some time. But that's another story. (See The world's 10 most aggressive snoops, according to Apple.)


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