Type-casting the iPad

Like most folks interested in new media technologies, we got us an iPad as soon as they came out. And it�s great for some things � such as sitting on the sofa and doing some online shopping, reading blogs, etc. You�ve heard all this before. Great for passive consumption.

I was surprised at DH2010 how many people were toting iPads around as their work machines, though. And I am surprised at the increasing number of people who bring them to meetings at work. Why? Because the iPad is not a machine to do academic work on if you can actually type.

One of the best things I did when I started my PhD and had some time on my hands was spend 30 mins a day for a few months learning to touchtype (thanks, past-semi-bored-self!). Although the quick brown fox jumps over the rusty fence was tedious, it means I can motor through emails and student assessments and drafts of articles now. (I never mastered touch typing numerical, or complex punctuation, but hey, that doesn�t slow me down much). But it also means I could never seriously use the iPad as a work machine: the layout of the keyboard reduces everyone to two-fingered dad-typing. I cant use trusty keyboard shortcuts to make processes that little bit quicker. My productivity � on email, in taking notes, in creating documents � is massively reduced. Back to the normal keyboard and normal laptop it is.

As a result, when more and more colleagues turn up to meetings with their shiny new iPad toy, I�m not sitting there impressed and cooing. I�m thinking � ahaa, thats why it takes you so long to answer emails.

Youth of today: learn to touchtype! (But, as the old advice goes, don�t tell anyone that you can, you don�t want to be treated like a secretary…) And don�t think that shiny and new and touch screen means increased productivity – well, not where emails and documents and reports are concerned, anyway.

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