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The iPad: pretty darned good for content creation

There's been a number of posts to various blogs and tech sites that diss the iPad.  I think most of them are really unfounded.



One of the more sensible one's is by Jason Hiner at TechRepublic.  He wraps up his article quite correctly, identifying a number of aspects of the iPad that give reason to be optimistic of its future.  The biggest one being that it's still a "1.0 device;" that is, it's the first version.  Apple has a tendency of using its introductory devices, such as the original iPod and even the iPhone, as testbeds that are improved upon quite dramatically within a few years of introduction.

Still, there's a slant in Hiner's opinion - most evident in the title of his article - "The truth about iPad: It's only good for two things" - that tends to give one pause.  I don't like that, because if you bother to read the article, you'll see just how broadly Hiner defines those two "things."

One shortcoming Hiner describes is that the iPad isn't very good for content creation.  And in particular he points to the difficulty in inserting images and links as an example.  Well, of course, it isn't.  Duh!  While the glossy propaganda from Apple repeats like a matra that the iPad is good for "everything," you will note that none of the adds give examples of content creation under that rubric.  This is a danger of the sound-bite.  If you have sufficient attention span to observe Apple's ads in their entirety, using both your eyes as well as your ears, you do get a good sense of what the iPad is all about.

Just on this one point, let me offer an alternative view: I think the iPad is really great for content creation.

I do a fair amount of writing, both professionally and otherwise.  Most of this stuff is largely based on text.  While I love diagrams and graphics, they're a pain to develop - even on my laptop or desktop - compared to the ease with which I can churn out plain ol' linear text.  One might ask when we'll see some really usable and useful apps and software for communicating graphically, but that's not an iPad thing - that's a general software thing.

When I write, there's two phases to it: creation and editing.  When I create, I use plain text.  I just need to get my thoughts down, choose the right words, get my ideas in the right order, and make sure the underlying logic of my argument is as good as I can make it.  There's no great need at this point for images and links.  Indeed, adding them during context creation breaks my concentration on the text.  I might leave myself notes, like embed image of a fleebnorb here, but to do more than that is disruptive to the creative mode of thinking.

Once I've got the basic text in order, I go back through it all, in editing mode.  At this point, I'm correcting the language, trying to make sure that readers will understand me, tweak the odd bit here and there, and augment the text with appropriate images and links.  This is not a creative mode of thinking, but an analytic mode.  I'm dissecting my own writing for the sake of clarifying it for others.

How does the iPad figure in this?  I do the creative text writing on the iPad.  Since it's so light, I can carry it pretty much anywhere.  It's size is ideal (for me) to use on the subway (sitting down), or on my lap during an otherwise meaningless meeting, etc.  Once the text is in order, I use DropBox or Google Docs to make the text available on my other computers.  Then I sit down in peace and quite, at my laptop or desktop, and do the analytic part of the operation, including adding images and links.

As far as I can tell, the iPad fits perfectly into this two-mode way of turning stuff out, making it a very effective tool.  So sure, it's not a silver bullet solution.  Big deal: there's no such thing as a silver bullet.  But it sure can play an important role in getting stuff done.

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