tablet thoughts


computers are still pretty complicated. there’s too much you have to know to make them go. pretty much nobody thinks of iPhone as a computer even though it’s one of the most complex things ever built. if you extend that thought to something bigger in size you open the world of “doing things” to other people that don’t want to or ever need to see a file system.

I think that it’s laughable that there is so much interest in marketing tablets. so far every single photo has shown “a web page” being displayed. and in my mind this is not a problem that needs to be solved. I have lots of things that can do that. so I’ve been giving lots of thought to things that I might want a tablet for.

• screen sharing. VNC turns out to be a killer app. being able to see a screen remote gives you some flexibility: check the status of a render during a meeting, controlling a recording, getting status on a server, etc. I don’t need a full machine for peering in.

• cooking. I’ve been cooking more and find that I’m using cookbooks less. but iPhone doesn’t get along with water, flour and bacon. it’d be nice to send my recipe(s) to a device so I can page while making pie. yeah, yeah, paper blah, blah. it’s about putting a tool where it needs to be in a way that makes it transparent to use.

• dashboard apps. for example. I’m completely dependent on NextBus to the point where I’m thinking about making a “picture frame” for the busses that I use. my Chumby does this, but just shows times. I really want the system map.

• time based displays. in the morning I have a different set of things I want to know compared to later in the day.

• media manager and editor. iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie.

• reader. you may not read but I do. and I’ve been reading lots of things lately because I’ve moved out of printed books and moved to ebooks. before you go bah, ebooks you need to read one. just one. and then you have an opinion. personally, book is book no matter where you read it.

next I thought about a tablet from a learning point of view. you know, the OLPC meme. I always thought that OLPC missed by being a tiny computer instead of a great learning tool. a Kindle or Sony eBook could be OLPC if it had software that pushed book beyond book. it could be everything from a learn to read tool to a math slate. just like when NeXT shipped in the day with a dictionary, thesaurus and the complete works of Shakespeare all of these things (and more) should be there ready for learning. courseware has always been a problem because the diversity of platform.

iTunesU has the potential to push education beyond the standard stand and deliver. lots of what is there is that kind of thing. but it doesn’t have to be. some things are constant. for example Julia Childs video still teaches how to cook. Richard Feynman still inspires. and Guy Kawasaki still makes a point. all kinds of teacher have done things that are as valid today as they were when they said them.

think about that stuff. that’s what is next OMHO.