Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The iPad

The iPad (image from:

I don't own an iPad, but that doesn't mean they didn't get it right when they made it. I loved one of the comments in this article on BusinessWeek. It says 'Beware of The iPads of March'. Now it is a reference to the Ides of March, that is 15th of March, the day supposedly Julius Caesar was assassinated & so on. It has nothing to do with the iPad. But it has everything to do with what the iPad symbolizes. It symbolizes a revolution in the way people have begun to interact with data. Just 4 years ago, there was no iPad & that is so hard to believe. We had gotten by our lives so peacefully & there comes this sleek slate of pure desire. It was made to fall in love with. Even a reasonably rational adult who doesn't believe in jumping out and buying the latest gadget out there, cannot resist the pull of an iPad lying idly on a wooden table. It is welcoming & that is what Apple has pulled. It has done it so incredibly well that even if we just wander by their store with one of these staring right at us through the glass pane, it does entice the fingers a little. We just want to grab it, feel the brushed aluminum against the palm & touch the clean glass with our index finger, even if it is just to scroll some random list of things on it. And the best part is we don't even have to own it to feel that way. The reason is that most people can still live pretty efficiently & normally without owning an iPad. Technology is generally adopted to enable us to do something better than before. There is no before for the iPad. We have never scrolled stuff on a glass surface & enjoyed it, ever. We have never enjoyed full HD videos right on our laps. We have never spoken to someone across continents in full screen shiny glory & also wanted to kiss the screen at the same time. We have no memory or kinetic function whatsoever associated with using the iPad. Yet is sells, by the tonnes. We perhaps adopt it not because of any real function like a very few people really do, but we adopt it simply to be a part of this phenomenon where our own data is no longer separated from us. The distance between us & our data has never been so close as to almost having worn it. We touch it, we play with it (scrolling aimlessly just to watch it go 'zoooooo'), we engage in a way we have never done before. The weirdest part is, data was never meant to be so personal at all. It was just meant to be electronic signals which represent what we store, want to retrieve & delete. But now we feel like licking it, right through the screen.

This begs to question, was technology ever meant to be so personal? Are we becoming machines or are our machines crossing over to show us that they live through us? 

- Why not?

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