Will I Be Buying an iPad?

Apple Keynote about the iPad mentions the intersection of Technology and the Liberal Arts

Apple Keynote about the iPad mentions the intersection of Technology and the Liberal Arts

By Gene Roche

[Geeky Teaching is an occasional column that focuses clearly on technology–just for the fun of it.  While the focus of magazine is on teaching–not technology–the fact remains that 17.875 of our users love their gadgets as much as we do.  You know who you are! ]

I was thinking that the iPad would be one Apple device that I could actually live without, even though by most measures, I am a certified Mac fanboy.  At one point, my office was a certified Apple demo site and I got the newest model every year at rock bottom prices, addiction was inevitable.  Also, I never really “got it” when it came to mobile devices until I got my iPhone–now I see why mobile computing consistently makes it to the Horizon Report’s technologies to watch.

Then Steve had to throw up this graphic and define the iPad as the intersection between technology and the liberal arts, and now I have to buy one. (Curse you,  Steve Jobs!) How can you be the academic technology guy at the world’s foremost liberal arts university and not have one.

From what I’ve read of the iPad, the first generation will likely attract folks who love good design–even if they’re not exactly sure what to do with it.  My Nikon SLR is like that–I’m not a good enough photographer to take advantage of most of features, but the build, the fit and finish, the design are so good that every once in a while I take it out just to hold it.  It feels that good.

People who have actually held the iPad talk about how responsive it is, how well built and how efficient the interface.  Even skeptics who stop at the apple store are likely to jump on board once they’ve touched one.  New content targeted at consumer media like the New York Times, Wired, and Sports Illustrated will show if this thing really can challenge books for the content kind of reading our students will do.  (I never thought I’d replace my reading of books with anything electronic, but I do most of my pleasure reading on the Kindle now.  A large number of books I read as an English major are now free for the Kindle.  If this can extend the reach of the Kindle, it may have some legs.)

Even when the thrill of good design wears off, I’m thinking may be the product that spurs the all-in-one tool that will replace the spiral notebook.  What I’m looking for is the ability to download all my readings and notes onto a 10″ device that will run all day on a single battery charge and will let me jot down notes on a PDF document or a meeting agenda.  I think that many of my students are looking for a similar solution.

If (when) I buy an iPad, I’ll be looking at it as a content consumption device–not a full-featured content creation device.  I’ll still want to respond to email, rate a restaurant, or retweet an interesting url–stuff I can easily do on my iPhone–and which should be even easier with a bigger keypad.  My real work will get done on my desktop or laptop and then synced with the new device.

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