The apple I-pad was launched to an eager world a few days ago. Even in this age of technological utopia, the launch was greeted with enough fanfare to make it look like the second coming. In fact, it barely needs an introduction in this column.
Apple want to make sure you know that the I-pad is a ‘game changer’ as the American expression goes. The apple website touts the device as a ‘magical and revolutionary device’ and plenty of people seem to agree.
In many cases, the enthusiasm often amounts to a reaction along the lines of ‘Oooh look- something new and shiny!’
A few months ago, I wrote about how I occasionally felt alienated and out of the loop with digital advancements often because things were moving too fast or seemed like a platform to generate a sort of collective shallowness.
Twitter was my main focus then, but as I grudgingly admitted at the time, there was nothing particularly wrong with it. It is not a courtesy I intend to extend to the apple I-pad, and I am nothing, if not fair.
So what is my problem with it? Well there are several. One aspect of the constant stream of digital goodies and products is that new products are often indistinguishable from the old ones.
This seems pertinent to the hallowed I-pad. Now I am not yet in a position to afford an I-pad assuming I did indeed want one, but I asked myself the question anyway: would I ever really want one? To my-admittedly untrained- eye, this seemed to be an upgraded version of the apple I-phone and in effect a glorified blackberry.
Seeing as yours truly has a phone that is at least eight years behind the times, the I-pad was not exactly earth-shattering for me.
The Apple website promises that the I-pad can run up to 140,000 apps. This makes me think of a song lyric from the nineties ‘Its like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.’
Now I don’t have any overriding issues with consumerism per se, but the main reason the I-pad appears to be such a big deal is merely because it is something new and fancy to buy.
Presumably it will change many people’s lives or improve their standing among their peers. However I find myself cold and alienated from the whole thing. Apple would probably tell me that is because I haven’t tried it or that I am merely too set in my ways.
That may be so, but in some ways, apathy can be a rational reaction. How does one keep up with all these things?
How does someone decide what they need and what they don’t? We are all pretty much distracted enough as it is.
Doesn’t ownership of supposedly mind-blowing gadgets like the I-pad merely accelerate the process in which many of us are living in a sort of digital bubble with low attention spans and decreasing inter-personal skills?
I’ve seen plenty of people treat their I-phones and Blackberries as if they are vital bodily organs, nourished only by constant attention.
As I’ve already noted, these musings are directly connected to an article I wrote about twitter and similar emerging technologies.
It is not a tenuous link- in both cases, I am trying to articulate my reaction to emerging technologies, how we consume them and what this may mean for our identity.
When I discussed twitter all those months ago, I revealed that I initially loathed it before experiencing the kind of conversion that would have impressed Saint Paul himself.
I think I am unlikely to reconsider my apathy for the I-pad and other similar devices that attempt to combine all your communication needs. Fascination is as far as I will go.
Minega Isibo is a lawyer