Blog Pile

iRrational iPolarization

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Yeah, I go an iPad with the coolest wallpaper available. Heck, I’ll share it with anyone who wants it.

Frankly, I am uttering a collective yawn at the irrational exuberance at one end and the irrational vitriol at the other of the iPad spectrum. It’s just static filled noise to me. For me, you cannot understand a technology by making your opinions based on other people’s opinions. You have to get your paws on it.

So I have to say in your hand, not even powered on, the iPad is seductive. It is much smaller, thinner, lighter than I imagined. It’s thinner than my iPhone. It’s thinner, smaller, and close to the weight of my recent issued of Wired, and its a freaking computer. The battery life is astounding. The quality of photos and video is stunning. The responsiveness of the orientation change when you turn it is immediate (as apposed to my iPhone which I am always wrist whipping to turn to my desired orientation).

I’ve been reading eBooks in Kindle app and Stanza on the iphone, and its flipping pages every other paragraph, but with the iPad, I get whole paragraphs. And actually, for my hunt and peck typing style, the keyboard is quite fine (and hold the shift key, you can send messages in ALL BAVA CAPS)

Still, I will use my laptop for the bulk of my work, and for work related travel, I will be taking the laptop, the iPad, and the iPhone (on vacation, the laptop can stay home.. maybe- I will still want it for daily photo editing). I never saw it as a laptop replacement. But I can see at conferences, leaving the laptop at the hotel if I am just surfing or tweeting. It’s another piece in the spectrum of mobile technologies, which to me is about being mobile with tech, not about phones.

Last November, when I was doing NaNoWriMo, I could so see writing with the iPad on the plane, rather than hunched over with my wrists bent at angles cause Big Leroy in the seat ion front of me is leaned all the way back.

For all the crying and moaning about how locked and closed and limited it is– the thing just came out. The first iPhones were extremely limited in apps and capabilities. Three years later? The iPad at 1.0 is hardly an endpoint.

I did not get it to watch Netflix or download glitzy versions of ailing newspapers. I want to understand what it might mean as a publishing platform, and if it can offer something new for presenting media and information. I’m working now on getting our publications in ePub format and looking to see what others come along (I am less interested in iPad only forms).

But I am in no place to be drawing the sweeping conclusions of gloom or glory others are. We are not even close to knowing what people can do with it until they get to do things with it.

There are, like most technologies, quirks I’d hope will change. Most if not all I would guess others have already ID-ed. A few I noted in 2 days of light use.

  • Content transfer sucks. I hate having to move things through iTunes sync. It hardly makes sense to be the Everyperson’s media platform, if Everyperson needs a computer with iTunes to use the thing. I would hope someday it can be used by someone w/o requiring iTunes on a computer. There are apps that talk to desktop apps though a local IP addresses.
  • Apps are pricier than iPhone ones, and sometimes you need both different versions. That said, there are a decent number of free apps, and the app tidal wave has just started. Where is the basic apps for writing w/o having to buy one? Oh, “Notes” which after al this time does the most squirrely method to syncs- with the on the computer, which I dont use.
  • Every book or magazine issue as its own app is dumb. can you say Padtop clutter?
  • The iTunes Store Organization for Books is …. well fill in an expletive. Where do you find books in iTunes Store? There is no “books” tab. Why, silly, they are listed in the App store (that makes no sense at all). Worse, when you go to the books section of the App store area, what you get are a mixture of book titles and titles for apps that work with books. Its hard to tell whats a book. I hope they talk to a librarian and get some decent organizational structure in there.

I don’t have any regard for people who are hurling insults and taunts at those who are exploring a new platform, or the glee hards who are predicting it will save or change some industry. I am not finding any of the posturing from the ends to be very constructive to understanding. Sure, express your views but respect mine, and don’t hoist your position so much as a “truth” to brow beat others with it who may just want to extend that natural human trait of curiosity.

No device makes me or keeps me from being creative– creativity is what we do with our things, not any force they exert on us.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Yay! for my money this is the most grounded review I have come across. I’m really looking forward to testing out this new device – new being the operative word – as I know it will only be the beginning of the ongoing exploration of this particular iteration of the shift/emergence/importance of mobile devices in connectivity, work and play!

  2. I’m glad you wrote this, Alan. I’m enjoying experimenting with my iPad, and quite frankly I’ve just been letting it roam around my classes so I can watch what students might be interested in doing with it. As for using it as a publishing/consumption platform, my biggest wish is for a proper file/storage system. I’ve started using Keynote on the fly as a presentation ‘sketchpad’ that can then be honed on a laptop. Maybe Apple could ‘close the loop’ a little by providing an epub export option out of Pages?

  3. “creativity is what we do with our things, not any force they exert on us.”

    If your things are locked by others, then they may not ‘force’ you but they certainly limit you.

  4. I’m completely with you regarding the device itself. I live in Spain so I haven’t been able to see one or order one but I was counting on getting one at some point. The noise about the iPad itself, yes, much of it was noise. There simply hasn’t been enough time to really gauge its strengths and weaknesses.

    However, what has me miffed and has come close to destroying my interest in the device (actually the whole iPhoneOS platform) is the announcement of iPhone license changes last Thursday, namely 2 changes: the restriction of programming environments to develop apps and the restrictions on 3rd parties that want to collect and analyse use data. That noise is fully justified. It’s as if Apple had suddenly fallen into a time warp and were back to the 80s and 90s when they locked the Mac down practically to the point of extinction. What created the newly successful Mac and iPhoneOS? Unix. That is worth getting pissed about.

    1. @Peter I know your stand on this! There are always limits in creativity; but its what the human mind can do within limits that makes it creativity. I am not looking at the iPad to do everything my MacBookPro can do, just the same I don’t look at the iPhone to do what my computer can do, or my toaster to do what my computer can do.

      @miguel I have to agree with the…. to use a technical term, “icky” feeling of the recent announcement of the iP***** development tools. I’ve not read the gory details, but struggle to figure out how out helps to have fewer ways for people to create apps. I for one am never going to learn objective C in this lifetime.

      @wesley- but what can you do with that downloaded and edited Keynote preso once you have edited it? That’s the rub, its a one way road unless you sync. Pitching it as a device for the everyday consumer ought to mean they can enjoy what it can do w/o always having to have a computer around to Sync– wait, they want to sell more computers, of course!!!

  5. Good points, all.

    I was pleased to learn you can directly download a Google Presentation from Safari if you have Keynote for iPad, and then view/edit it. That is one way to avoid iTunes sync for presos.

  6. I have been emailing my documents around. Sucks, I prefer a cloud storage solution, but I can’t stand plugging the thing in to sync, so I end up emailing everything, and it actually works, just a little inelegant. With the latest update to goodreader, pdf attachments in mail actually open in godoreader. go figure.

    I recommend evernote for writing stuff. painlessly and automatically syncs to evernote’s servers. You can see the same stuff on your computer, ipad and iphone.

    books are found in ibooks. the books section of the appstore is for book apps.

    1. Yeah, that’s what I do Brad. It’s the perfect 1980s solution to email myself files!

      I was talking about looking for books in the iTunes store on my computer. There is no place to look for just books. That is, IMHO, stupid.

  7. Thanks for your comments Alan. I agree – the best way to figure out a piece fo software/tech is to play with it and figure out what it does/doesn’t do.

    The ipad fits into the “I will buy” category for me, regardless of the wonderful (or crappy) reviews. It’s not a terribly expensive device and, whether an iPad or other tool, I imagine most people will have some type of tablet in the next 5 years.

    (though apple’s announcement of delays in international shipping till end of May will delay my play time)

  8. While Apple has focused on making hardware, OSes, and apps work better, they haven’t turned that focus on the cloud ideal yet. Perhaps it is short sited of them, perhaps they will get around to it, perhaps it just isn’t in their DNA and will always be a cause of disconnect. All we really know if google, no one has ever seriously competed in collaborative productivity. It’ll be interesting to see where this is in another year or two.

  9. “No device makes me or keeps me from being creative– creativity is what we do with our things, not any force they exert on us. ”

    You said it, Alan. For some, the iPad will be a totally liberating experience and for others it will be a set of intolerable handcuffs. I think that most of the negative reviews come from the latter group (who are probably are better off with a MacBook Pro in any case) and the “greatest thing since sliced bread” reviews come from the former group whose computing horizons will be expanded by a device with this level of convenience and ease-of-use. The first group, as a percentage of the overall population, is probably much larger than the latter. Getting at this group is where Apple excels and if that brings computing tools to more people and lowers the overall technology fear factor, that is a good thing.

  10. I used to like you. That’s all over now.

    Your rationality is just another form of collective amnesia—rationality was also the push behind the purging of North America during the 17th and 18th centuries, and their are direct relationships between that colonization of Western rationality and our current one. Don’t fall prey to the middle of the road, cause it is there we all get run over.

    1. That’s where we differ, Jimbo. I still like you and that’s not over now. In fact, I respect and value your position, nor do I imply that you have to change it or that mine is any superior to yours

      I could reach for some other metaphor (like maybe the labeling and polarizing of Joseph McCarhy), but I have no amnesia, and I proclaim I am a free thinker. I am an individual.

      For you, of all people, who has known me for a long time, to paint me as some brand dead zombie completely baffles and worse, disappoints me.

      What worries me is what smell like radicalism for the sake of radicalism. Fine, be against something. Throws stones at all the houses, glass or not. While entertaining as the loud rebel, you are more an artisan I admire when you are creative, constructive; the destructive, negativistic Jim? I dunno…

      1. Yeah, I think you’re right. Back to the drawing table. I’m glad this show is over, I’m getting ever tired of myself. Thanks for the kick in the ass.

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