a funny thing happened

I’ve had the chance to use my iPad for about a week now, and the experience has been incredibly rewarding. Aside from being just…FUN, the iPad has already changed the way i think of “personal” computing. What I think is interesting is the speed at which this change has occurred. I was naturally hesitant when I started thinking about taking on the iPad as my “primary” computer, since there were things notably absent from the final software and hardware. Interestingly enough, none of those things matter now, and I wondered why they ever really did.

I packed up my little netbook this morning to sell to a colleague of mine. In order to get the little beast ready for sale, I had to reformat the hard drive. Normally, this is a process that I’m well familiar with. What I wasn’t counting on was my reaction to the process.

“Wow,” I thought as I booted into windows XP for the last time, “this is really ugly.”

I’d like to say that I miss windows XP (or vista, or windows 7), but I just don’t. I don’t see why most people would want anything other than this experience when they’re not in front of a “real” computer. I fully understand that there are programs and “apps” that simply don’t work the way they would on a desktop, but I think that’s the point. You already have a central data point at home, complete with all sorts of computing power. The last thing you need is something to duplicate that. What I (and maybe you) want, is a computer that doesn’t need to be managed, that simply disappears. The only thing I ever think about is storage capacity, and even that’s not a problem. I did fine with 16 gigs on my netbook, so the 16 gigs I have here is plenty.

The other thing i found myself able to do? Focus. How often do I get distracted by useless things on the internet, end up spending most of my day reading news articles that have no bearing on my life or my intended future life? Too often, and I’m sure most of us could say the same. This machine creates focus, it creates connection to the material. I’m not typing right now, I’m creating, I’m thinking. A machine that allows for thought, innovation, movement. This is the beginning of where we begin to see the “interface” disappear. It’s not about finding what you want in a maze of menus and jargon, it’s about the device becoming what you need it to be. It’s about synergy.

the holodeck

a couple thoughts that i’ve had recently.  i was listening to the gdgt podcast on the ipad (jan. 30th).  one of the ideas that was presented was the ipad as “4 white walls.”  the gist being that the ipad was, essentially, an empty room that needed to be filled.  the initial experience is so underwhelming that you want to fill it.

does this ring a bell for anyone?  at the risk of exposing my EXTREME NERDINESS (oh wait…i’m writing a gadget blog…), it’s just like the holodeck in star trek.  this is a room that can become anything you want it to be.  you step into it and are presented with…nothing.  a few commands later, and you’re standing in times square, or the rainforest, or making out with an old girlfriend.  it’s a completely customizable experience based on what you want at that exact moment.  this is an extension of the idea of the “information appliance” that i talked about earlier.  it’s not going to do 10,000,000 things at once.  it’s going to be a focused experience.

in the holodeck, you’re not flipping back and forth between times square and the rainforest (maybe makeouts in the rainforest is ok, though).  in the holodeck, wherever you go, there you are.  funny, that’s how real life works.  we can’t skip back and forth between two places instantaneously, but we’ve gotten used to structuring our virtual lives that way. it’s too much!  the experience of now is fundamental to our existence.  we experience things only in the present moment, nowhere else.  our attempts to transcend that through computing is difficult, at best, but we still try.  the idea of “multitasking” hasn’t been getting  a lot of positive praise as of late.  just a simple google search tells us that multitasking is on its way out.

sure, TELEPORTATION could be the unspoken trump card.  “yeah?  well what if i COULD be in two places at once?  what then, huh?”  well…you’re still technically only in one place at any given moment.  but hey, i’m no expert.  unfortunately, not many people know what that’s like.  it also comes with its own problems.  like samuel l. jackson trying to kill you.

i just don’t need that in my life right now.

maybe you’re ok with that, though.  i dunno.

but anyway, i digress.  point is, you don’t really need “multitasking.”  more and more i’m seeing computing shifting towards a single-application focus.  just look at chrome os, it’s not trying to be anything but a browser.  the ipad, by comparison, is too complex, but it will work, and people will love it.  that’s all apple needs.

i was talking to a friend of mine last night, and she asked me, “are you going to get one?”  “yeah,” i said.  her eyes widened a little bit and she took a deep breath and said, “that’s exciting!”

i know.