On the Failures of the iPad & the Pleasures of Being Bored
I didn't want to write about the iPad this week, but now I want to write about the iPad this week. Though I am not a gadget person, it was difficult to ignore the onslaught of buzz and anti-buzz that swarmed Twitter on Wednesday before, during and after the unveiling of the iPad. Maybe I gravitate toward snarky (wise) people, but the sentiment from my view was overwhelmingly negative, especially if you count "wings" jokes as negative.
The reactions were largely along these lines: "So it's just a big iPhone that doesn't work as a phone? Really?" This got me thinking about the path that personal devices seem to be taking—that is, getting larger, not smaller. The iPhone is already significantly larger than the Razor, which all the cool kids were carrying before the iPhone came out. Now we're expected to carry around something the size of an Etch-a-Sketch? So much for your "pocket profile." (Also, you still have to carry your phone.)
An unsavory parabola. On Twitter, I reminisced about the days of ever-smaller electronics:
My friend Matt Walker wisely (or snarkily?) responded thusly:
True—as things get smaller and more portable, we become increasingly accustomed to the ability to carry them with us. So despite the advances, we are actually more encumbered. Suddenly I don't have to leave my addictions (email, Facebook, Twitter, World of Warcraft) at home or at work. Why should I ever have to be without my stereo, my TV, my Wii? I can always be tweeting, I can always be gaming. Accordingly, it becomes increasingly difficult to ever be without these technologies—to the point that if the WiFi on the train doesn't work in a tunnel or the Internet at home goes out for two hours, I feel incapacitated and angry.
The End of Silence
So, in that last paragraph, I was using the first person rhetorically. I don't actually feel the need to check Twitter at all times. I have an iPod (my only Apple product), but I only use it on runs or long travel days. I don't want a phone with Internet access; I sit in front of a computer all day, so I like the break of being offline during my short commute. It reminds me that I don't have to respond to everything in real time.
But at least among people under 30 (OK, less than or equal to), I seem to be an exception. By and large, everyone is wearing headphones on the train, even just walking around town or at the mall. They are simultaneously texting. There is never silence, they are never alone. It's another manifestation of "Don't make me think"—don't leave me alone with my thoughts. When you're constantly plugged in, your thoughts are mostly background noise.
I don't want to come off as judgmental—if I were born 10 years later I'm sure I'd be the same way. But I still think there's some value in occasionally being bored, or having the opportunity to be bored. Remember what that's like? This is John Berryman, from "Dream Song 14," probably one of the greatest poems ever:
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored
means you have no
Inner Resources." I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Running without headphones, waiting for a late train—these are the main occasions when I have ideas. So I guess I'm with the mom here. I think it's good to go "off the grid" now and then and tap those inner resources.
If you're more interested in the iPad than my amateur philosophy, here's some good reading on why the iPad disappoints:
- 8 Things That Suck About the iPad: Gizmodo's Adam Frucci writes, "A lot of people at Gizmodo are psyched about the iPad. Not me! My god, am I underwhelmed by it. It has some absolutely backbreaking failures that will make buying one the last thing I would want to do."
- The Anti-Hype: Why Apple's iPad Disappoints: Mashable's Samuel Axon disputes that the iPad is the "best way to experience the web," and says it's not worth buying if you already have a smartphone and laptop.
- The Apple iPad Is The Second Coming Of The Newton: Brian Kraemer, in a column called FUDWatch, writes, "I have personally had two main gripes with Apple putting out a tablet since the first whispers of the device began to surface: it is too big and will be nothing more than an upsized iPhone. And I was eventually proven right."
- Not much of a story here, but on Slashdot (news for nerds!), Holmes Wilson of the FSF (Free Software Foundation) is quoted as calling the iPad "a huge step backward in the history of computing."
Enough Gadgets, Back to Search
A few folks around the blogosphere did manage to stay on topic this week and talk search. Highlights included some great in-depth how-to's:
- How to Use Tags on your Blog or Website: Michael Gray explains the benefits of tagging, SEO gotchas, and advanced tips for cross link utilization.
- StumbleUpon Etiquette Guide and Best Practices: This guide by Tamar Weinberg explains how to use the "social content discovery engine" without looking like a self-serving jerk.
- Search Engine Guide has been publishing a series of SEO 101 posts. Check out parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 to learn "everything you need to know about" SEO, title tags, meta tags, headings and ALT attributes.
- One of the questions we've been asking in our social media interview series is how to measure ROI from social media. On Search Engine Land, Chris Bennett offers "20 Metrics To Effectively Track Social Media Campaigns" … or 10 anyway.
- Not a how-to, but I enjoyed this post by Dr. Pete called "It's Only a Clique if You're Not In It," a response to recent hubbub about best-of lists and in-group promotion.
Have a great weekend!