Stephen Baker

The Numerati
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The iPad and the CD-Rom

May 6, 2010General

I couldn't resist this BusinessWeek cover. It's on Scott Rosenberg's very interesting blog post (from late March!) comparing the hubbub surrounding the iPad to the ever-so-brief CD-Rom boom in the early '90s. His point is that the iPad, like the CD-Rom, is a cloistered platform that will likely be surpassed by gadgets geared more toward openness and sharing. (I was working at BW during the CD-rom boomlet, and at one company retreat, in 1994, McGraw Hill's CEO Joe Dionne helicoptered in to upbraid us--ink-smudged luddites, in his view--for not embracing the next big thing: He held up a shiny disk.

I have my iPad lying on a table next to me as I type these words on my old laptop. After a few weeks with the new machine, I have to say that it hasn't changed much in my life. The Internet "in your hands" isn't all that difference from the Internet "on your lap." Now this may be because I haven't engaged my imagination (or found transformative apps) and am just using the iPad as a disembodied laptop.

The biggest difference: I finally have a Kindle (ie. the Kindle app on the iPad). So I'm reading e-books. I read Ian McEwan's Solar (not in the same league with Atonement or Saturday, but fun), and am now slugging through Henry James' last novel, The Golden Bowl.

Other iPad advantages: I'm having fun with my own photos, on Picasa. And I like watching Netflix on-demand movies--or at least the possibility of doing it. I call up a movie, start to watch it, think it's really cool, and then find something else to do after about 10 minutes. Maybe that's just me. But if it weren't free (or included for free in my subscription), I'd stick with it longer). Maybe that's another blog post: How our dwindling attention follows investment...

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