When to be an Early Adopter and when to be a Laggard: Part 2

2013-12-13 12.24.13Despite my best, most sustainable, low consumerism intentions, I got sidetracked by Christmas stuff this weekend. The good news is, that not only am I recycling (regifting?) blog posts on Twitter, but also, here!

Hi, Maddy's Mum here, with blog no. 2... and more thoughts on iPads.


Technology is neutral – the situation determines whether it is good or bad. Going low tech with a graphite pencil and a pencil sharpener is probably the best technology when you are off the grid doing field work in a remote location…(photo by Daniel German). I hate mechanical pencils – they just never work properly, are mostly over-engineered, and are wasteful in terms of how much plastic and metal they use in production. Thus, IMO, they are bad technology for many reasons. Oh look, here's the first patented design for one from 1822. A bad idea that's nearly 200 years old.

Device arrangementThe sad state of today’s Global North society, is that we are, thanks to the internet, data-rich but information- and knowledge-poor. This is the Data Deluge. All the available information doesn't seem to help most people in making informed choices, and there’s not much that’s logical and rational about what they do. This applies as much to how people in our highly technologized (I just made that word up) world interact with technology, as it does to  how they choose their friends! When I ask my friends/students/colleagues why they love their iPad or iPhone, their main reason seemed to be that it’s trendy and popular: so, they are actually just following the crowd. (photo by Tom Morris)

This kind of reminds me of the Kinks song – Dedicated Follower of Fashion 

I tried to take a more rational, data-generated approach to figuring out whether iPads are, in fact, a useful technology for my life and productivity. I asked the question: is it worth the time to learn to use properly? After playing around with the iPad Mini since January, here’s my low down:

    1. The iPad/iPhone/Smart Phone from Samsung etc. with touch screen interface is probably here to stay, for the foreseeable future. On balance, I support this interface, because it increases computer accessibility for certain user groups, who may have trouble with keyboards. The Siri voice access is also interesting, though I haven’t tested it much.
    2. The iPad is NOT a substitute for a computer with a proper keyboard. A little old lady at our local garage noticed me juggling my Macbook Air and the iPad Mini and asked my opinion about whether she should get an iPad instead of a new computer. No doubt she asked me because I look like an approachable, grey-haired, middle-aged person.Holy cow! I discovered that a whole lot of crazy people out there, including her son, are seriously marketing & pushing the idea that the iPad is a straight substitute for a computer, to gullible relatives and members of the public. IT’S NOT! The two machines excel at very different activities.There is one exception, which is that people with manual-dexterity challenges, like carpel tunnel syndrome and arthritis, may benefit from the touch-screen interface. The rest of us should carry on typing fast and try to avoid RSIs (repetitive strain injuries) as long as possible.
    3. The iPad’s strength is directly related to activities that involve the touch screen. So, creating, manipulating and marking up images are what it’s built for. Photographing text and converting it to OCR (Optical Character Recognition)? check! Marking up pdf’s? check! Taking photos and marking them up and transforming them on the fly? Check! Creating original digitized artwork for use in your websites? Check!


    1. Dirty secret #1 of using iPads and smartphones. They are data-usage hogs and users SHOULD move to an unlimited internet plan.
    2. Dirty secret #2 of using iPads and smartphones. The whole cloud file sharing approach tempts users to indulge in risky behaviour around their personal cyber-security. IF you are paranoid and, constantly change passwords, clear your cookies, and do not save passwords by checking the “remember me” box in your apps and internet account log-in pages, you might be ok with logging into all your personal accounts from your iPad and iPhone – bank account, paypal account, email, etc.

Since most people do not do not have nightmares about cybersecurity until they are hacked or experience identify theft, then IMO, everyone should shut down all of the “in the cloud” aspects of their apps. Sooner or later, your passwords and security will be compromised. It’s far better to port documents between devices with a hard-wired connection. I do not access my email on the iPad Mini. I side with the paranoid people on password protection. In my view, too much connectivity, through cloud sharing applications is a BAD THING. Uggh, everyone should prepare to be hacked and be thinking in advance about how to minimize the impending damage.

    • Observed stupid behaviour with iPads. People not adequately protecting their iPad. Buy a protective case. Most of the cases will not protect your iPad or iPhone. Just lay down the cash for something like an Otterbox, or, like Maddy, crack the screen of your iPhone, pay $100 to fix it and then put it in an Otterbox.
    • General observation about iPad, iTunes App store and software. Wow, it’s a wild west of  Apps out there. Multiple Apps are doing the same thing and you have to figure out which one you like the best. Unlike computers, where over the last 30 years, a few big winners have come to dominate the software market, the iPad Apps situation reminds me of owning an Apple Mac 30 years ago.
    • Understand that App software developers need to be paid so they can eat. PLEASE, do pay for software that you use a lot, when there’s a free trial period followed by a pay option.

That's it for now - pls bring on the mechanical pencil defenders! dawn bazely