It always amuses me; whenever “they” bring out a “cool” device, everybody immediately has to have one. Ok, not everybody, but enough people I know do want a new iPad to cause me major puzzlement.
Now, don’t let’s start with the wrong impression, I love good, useful, effective technology. But I love if for what it does, not what it is. The thing with computers is, they are intrinsically useless. It’s the software that’s useful – the device just supports the software. So, for example, I only bought a new computer when I wanted to run Second Life. Yes, it was state-of-the-art and all that, but I just stuck it under the table and actually looked at the new software it supported.
Back to the iPad then. Is it a sea-change in computer use, or just a coalition of old features? What new functionality does it support? Thus far, I haven’t heard of anything at all, let alone something that I will want to use. So to me, it’s useless. Ok, I could buy one in order to see if it’s useful, but isn’t that a bit like buying a new music download without listening to it first on the off-chance I would like it? (only much more expensive!)
It must be this kind of “sensible scepticism” that slows the adoption of technologies that do have clear benefits. Take Podcasting for example. Beyond Distance has plenty of evidence for its efficacy, and many people are beginning to use it, but there’s no stampede of new Podcasting academics. Getting the message across is as important as having a good message.
For the iPad, either there’s no good message, or it has yet to reach me.
Time will tell . . .
Research Associate, SWIFT