Like most folks interested in new media technologies, we got us an iPad as soon as they came out. And it’s great for some things – such as sitting on the sofa and doing some online shopping, reading blogs, etc. You’ve heard all this before. Great for passive consumption.
I was surprised at DH2010 how many people were toting iPads around as their work machines, though. And I am surprised at the increasing number of people who bring them to meetings at work. Why? Because the iPad is not a machine to do academic work on if you can actually type.
One of the best things I did when I started my PhD and had some time on my hands was spend 30 mins a day for a few months learning to touchtype (thanks, past-semi-bored-self!). Although the quick brown fox jumps over the rusty fence was tedious, it means I can motor through emails and student assessments and drafts of articles now. (I never mastered touch typing numerical, or complex punctuation, but hey, that doesn’t slow me down much). But it also means I could never seriously use the iPad as a work machine: the layout of the keyboard reduces everyone to two-fingered dad-typing. I cant use trusty keyboard shortcuts to make processes that little bit quicker. My productivity – on email, in taking notes, in creating documents – is massively reduced. Back to the normal keyboard and normal laptop it is.
As a result, when more and more colleagues turn up to meetings with their shiny new iPad toy, I’m not sitting there impressed and cooing. I’m thinking – ahaa, thats why it takes you so long to answer emails.
Youth of today: learn to touchtype! (But, as the old advice goes, don’t tell anyone that you can, you don’t want to be treated like a secretary…) And don’t think that shiny and new and touch screen means increased productivity – well, not where emails and documents and reports are concerned, anyway.