Pleasantly Disrupted

I remember watching the initial iPad announcement and thinking, “Well, it’s kinda cool, but underwhelming.” It didn’t have a camera, and it really looked like nothing more than a big iPod Touch. As I already had an iPhone, I saw no need for “another device.” Then my neighbor got one to be his “take along computer” for his handyman business and let me play with it. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed using it. Manipulating the screen through touch was an emotional experience, and the experience of using the iPad felt nothing like using my iPhone. I was hooked.

Several months later, as we were wrestling with getting a device for my son so he could read the Bible and his books for school, we knew the iPad was what he needed (he’s significantly visually impaired). I generally kept my hands off, but I borrowed it from time to time to see how I would use an iPad in my pastoral work. Before the year was up, I knew this was a device I wanted to have. I saved up my Christmas and Birthday money, added some from my ministry reimbursements, and stood out in line last March to be among the first to get an iPad 2. It’s changed the way I do computing.

Initially I categorized my iPad as “another device.” It was useful, but for the majority of my takes I still opened up my MacBook and did my “serious” work. I continued to write my sermons in GoogleDocs, my video editing in Final Cut Express and iMovie, my blogging from the web-interface, and my presentations in Keynote’s desktop incarnation. I used my iPad for editing existing documents, quick references, and e-mail – “light” tasks that I could do quickly and the move on to other things.

Over the months, however, I noticed a change my my mental categories. More and more I found myself packing up my iPad when I went “out and about” to work, even when I was doing “serious” tasks. This shift was aided, no doubt, by my acquisition of an inexpensive keyboard and apps like Blogsy (the best blogging tool I have ever used). The real motivation for this shift, however, was the emotional attachment I have to the iPad. When I am using it, even with the keyboard, I have a sense of being more connected to the task on which I’m working. I used to say I loved the iPad because when I used it the wall between myself, and anyone with whom I happened to be collaborating, was removed. Three quarters of a year into my life as an iPad user, however, has revealed to me how using the iPad also removes the wall of separation between me and the content I create. I now see my iPad as my computer, and my MacBook as “another device.” The MacBook is a necessary device for storage, and for large projects and presentations, but it’s what I go to when I simply can’t use my iPad.

It was an unexpected transition, and this disruptive tool isn’t even two years old. I’m almost giddy as the thought of what’s coming next.