Rolling down a dusty lane in Kansas, I imagine, was a Model T Ford. A horse looked up from the pasture and stared. What was that thing? And how soon will I be out of work because of it?
OK, OK, I am stretching things a bit to be putting thoughts of labor economics into the minds of the old grey mare. Perhaps I can be excused of this a bit in view of the fact that I think I am holding a revolution in my hands.
As you might expect, we went out and bought an iPad, the new touch-screen computing device from Apple. It was an early birthday gift from Marilyn, and it was love at first sight. I mean, for both of them.
It’s fast, it’s light, it’s sleek and it does everything but play the piccolo and put out the cat. I got the thing a week ago Monday, and by Thursday I was writing articles, wading through e-mail, organizing my schedule and reading books, all on a slab of plastic and metal that weighs a pound and a half.
At night now, I curl up with a digital version of a book, downloaded from Amazon.com into my iPad. Interested in checking the Angel score or seeing how many “hits” the ggjournal.com website has (a record 324 on Saturday, by the way)? Just tap, tap, tap on the screen.
Don’t even have a pencil handy and need to take notes? There’s an app that lets you write with your fingertip. Want to watch an episode of “Lost”? Well, as the commercial goes, there’s an app for that, too.
As a journalist I can see a ton of impacts that will be generated for my profession. At the smallest level, you can easily see an iPad as the new “must-have” field accessory for reporters. It will allow them to file articles from just about anywhere, uploading them directly to a news website.
Add a satellite connection and media types will be lugging iPads (and their many inevitable imitations) into the mountains of Afghanistan and onto helicopters circling above oil spills. The trend will really gain traction when Apple adds a camera to the device in another year or so.
At the “macro level” (doncha love modern snooty slang?), the impact on the mass media could be shattering. If you can watch TV and movies, surf the web or contribute to it, create, communicate and read all with a portable device that lasts for 10 or 11 hours without a recharge, what does that mean to the makers of media and media devices?
Some of us are old enough to remember the ritual of a family gathering around a TV set to watch a program. With the coming of the iPad Era, everyone in the family can watch any show they want in (or out of) any room in the house. Make a waterproof version and folks will surf the web in the shower (better develop better water heaters).
The argument of some traditionalists that reading news off a computer isn’t as satisfying as from a computer screen takes a big hit now. The multitude of web news sites means that if you’re a reader, you can be better informed than ever. The convenience of the iPad means you can actually spend more time reading, using a device that has the mobility of a newspaper or magazine without the clutter and clumsiness of the old school form.
Not to beat a dead (or gray) horse, but the future has arrived. Like with indoor plumbing, paved highways and birth control pills, things will never be the same. It’s a whole new ride, and it’s going to be interesting to see where it takes us.