Thursday, 27 May 2010

iPad? Techno Wipeout and how to avoid it

© Depositphotos.com/@searagen
Tomorrow's release of the iPad in Australia is sure to cause a stir in the media. But claims that this is a world changer will be nothing but noise in the echo-chamber. The changes happening as a result of the information revolution pre-date Apple's mass marketing techniques.

One of the biggest problems for any user of technology is keeping up with the changes. Conservatives typically quote digital cameras and their ever-increasing megapixels as markers of the pace of technological change and why it is pointless to try to keep up. 

But the release of the iPad tomorrow will see many arguing that this is the great marker of the revolution, many others saying that Apple isn't everything, and the rest not really caring.

Part of the problem is what I call "Techno Wipeout". It might be cutting edge to surf the edge of chaos, but it can also be expensive. 

I argue that it is better to wait for the right wave and ride it to where you want to go. Unless you are mega rich, of course, and then do whatever you like!

I have tried a few times to be ahead of the curve, but the only outcome was that I was ahead of the curve. Form over substance.

Increasingly, I am finding that the soft skills needed to work with new social media technologies are more important than the technologies themselves. Sure, if you leave it for too long, it can be a long swim back out to the surf, but it is better than constantly being dumped as a new technology wave hits you.

So while Apple's iPad will no doubt bring about some amazing new applications and ways to access and manipulate information (just as the iPhone did), is it really the marker of a brave new world? I doubt it.

But what the iPad will do is signal to the mob that it is now cool to do what many tech geeks have been doing for a long time - connecting and networking and sharing almost anything through their communications devices. Who knows, my students might even start reading e-books!

Apple's brand power will also make those who have refused to see the benefits of these devices take notice. Not because they now see the benefits and the new ways to collaborate and improve productivity, but because it was in the newspaper and on the telly.

So Apple's marketing machine might be the straw that broke the camel's back and bring social media and other web technologies into the mainstream.

But for me, I'll be sticking to my netbook for another generation or two. Just like I did with my telly - I'll be buying my 3D TV real soon and I will not have to get rid of my rather large plasma. That's how I avoid Techno Wipeout.

Creative Commons License Except where indicated otherwise, Le Flâneur Politique by Michael de Percy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License. Based on a work at politicalscience.com.au. Background image ©Depositphotos.com/ @redshinestudio