The iPad is real-life social

As a computing device, the iPad has some obvious limitations that have puzzled many tech-savvy Apple devotees, provoking a variety of critical articles explaining where Steve Jobs has gone wrong.

After reading one such blog post saying that the iPad was antisocial, because it didn’t have SMS or the ability to run IM in the background, it struck me this was a restricted view of what it means to be social.

The iPad is real-life social in a way that a phone and a laptop just aren’t. You really can just hand it to someone to show them what you mean: share photos, videos, writing with real people right next to you. I can see using it to learn with a child, share pictures with my mother, discuss house remodeling, and many other tasks normally done with paper. In conversation with friends last week I realized that, sat in its dock, the iPad would be the ideal cookbook. And for us geeks, a great way to consult technical books as we use our computers.

In the office, the iPad offers a middle-ground I’ve found lacking in electronic devices. Bringing my laptop into meetings puts up a screen between me and others, is a hassle to unplug and carry around, and can be personally distracting. Taking my iPhone to make notes makes people think I’m bored of the meeting and sending text messages to friends instead. So normally I choose paper, and tend to lose my notes afterwards.

The iPad is a device that will find fans not only in a family setting, but in a creative setting where collaboration and comment is in person. Criticized for not being open because of digital rights management, the iPad is actually very open, in the sense that it erects few physical barriers to sharing.

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