This is a continuation of a post found here.
Yesterday Apple introduced the iPad. After all the build up of anticipation and the managing of expectations via leaks to the press, the product was finally introduced. And in less than 24 hours it has gone through the whole zeitgeist cycle of want-need-hate. Most of us have not even seen or touched the device, yet we have already judged it.
This is a symptom of a 21st Century cultural malady. We are quickly loosing our capacity for wonderment and surprise. If we discover something that we then love, we immediately want to know how it was made, why, how much did it cost, how long did it take to make. Be it art, or technology, or entertainment, even news. We are loosing our ability to appreciate awe-inspiring experiences and in the process rendering them ordinary.
We do this by constantly negotiating with ourselves about how we are to have the experience. If we are expecting the release of a book, a movie, a new product, anything really, we begin an internal dialogue that looks somewhat like this:
Oh, that’s cool. Let me look that up online.
Wow, that’s really cool. Can’t wait for it to come out.
It is going to be so awesome.
I’m sure that it is going to be exactly what I want it to be and also will surprise me with unexpected twists.
I don’t know. I heard that it may not be good.
Here it comes, here it comes, almost there.
Well, how can it be everything to everyone.
Maybe they’ll surprise us and it will be better than magic.
Here it is.
Is that it?
I don’t know. I expected more.
We can no longer let things be what they are and appreciate them. Everything now has to be created with an aura of awesomeness. Not only are we loosing our capacity for wonderment, we are also loosing our capacity to be fair and effective critics.
I am by no means trying to elevate the significance of the iPad - much has been said already about the name, in three years all the jokes will be forgotten, maybe less depending on how many early adopters embrace the device. Instead I want to put it in context from the point of view of someone who clearly loves technology.
I am not an Apple cultist, some of my peers may disagree, on the other hand I’ve worked with Apple products since the late 80s and love them because at every step of my growth I was able to almost seamlessly customize them to allow me to learn more and do more. Consistently and with a minimum of irritation (compared to my experiences with other systems) I’ve been able to use Apple products as tools that adjusted to my needs and then almost got out of the way.
So here is my take on the iPad. Like almost everyone I know, my initial reaction was decidedly “is that it?” The buzz leading up to the event so hyperbolic that it really was impossible for whatever they were introducing to illicit something more than a “there’s got to be more” response.
Since then, I’ve watched the keynote, downloaded the SDK and given thought to how I could use this device.
The clipboard is now obsolete. Any job that used clipboards - for medical charts, inventory, to name a few - for easy access to information can be enhanced greatly by having this device, even more with a custom made application. The idea that as a creative services producer I can do rounds in a creative department with all of my workflow assignments, budgets, timelines, emails, project history, creative notes and briefs, everything easily available, makes me think of how much more I’ll be able to do on any given day. If companies then develop custom made apps to integrate into their current systems this could be a groundbreaking device for running day-to-day operations. I will spend the next few weeks learning how to develop for the device by producing an app that addresses all my work needs.
By embracing a few behavioral modifications the iPad could also become a productivity tool for creatives. Think of all the things that keep you from your work, your favorite distractions, twitter, facebook, rss feeds, email, all of them. Now, decide that you’ll only engage in those distractions on the iPad and you’ll only do it 3 or so times a day. In turn, your desktop or laptop then become devices used exclusively for work. By physically separating work and play into their own devices you’ll quickly notice all the ways in which the distractions encroach on your creative processes, or worse, all the ways in which we use distractions as procrastination tools.
The iPad is a 1.0 product that, much like the iPhone, will become even better in its 2.0 incarnation. It has some flaws and some limitations, but what it does it does mostly well and fast. Really fast, thanks to Apple’s own chip.
As for my beloved magazines, it is obvious now that for them to survive they need to stop thinking of themselves as publications and start thinking of themselves as applications. Because the new newsstand is the app store.
This is a continuation of a post found here.