When I was a kid, digital calculators were roughly the size of a brick, and had satisfyingly chunky displays. They also, in those pre-internet days, provided a means of minor technical mischief. Type in 5318008, flip your calculator upside down, and it appeared to say ‘boobies’. If you were five, this was the most hilarious and original gag in the history of the world.
In this modern and rather less innocent age, the media would have you believe that personal technology devices in the hands of children merely teach them how to joyride while murdering innocent puppies and simultaneously fashioning bombs out of string, jelly babies and bits of twig. It’s presumably for this reason that Apple considers it a good idea to warn you (Every. Single. Time.) when you download an eReader from the App Store that it—shock!—potentially enables you to view content that some people might deem objectionable.
Enter, stage right, James Thomson, creator of iPhone/iPod touch calculator PCalc. In a minor slice of design genius, he combined the two issues mentioned above and PCalc now slaps a huge ‘Censored!’ sign across ‘naughty’ words when your device is flipped, thereby ensuring fragile little minds aren’t warped beyond all recognition.
This is a smart, funny, satirical swipe at the recent trend towards over-zealous censorship. Unless you’re, say, Sajid Farooq of NBC, who, inexplicably takes Thomson’s joke seriously (and, sadly, he’s not alone) and states PCalc’s change would “make even George Orwell shudder in his grave”. I’m thinking Orwell would be more likely to laugh his CENSORED off.