Encounters of the third ‘i’

By The Columbia Chronicle

I’m sure most of you, like me, would get a decent case of goosebumps if you were to hold the iPad in your hands this moment. Only a few select people have done so since the Jan. 27 unveiling in San Francisco.

Imagine it: that slick, solid slate shifts decidedly in your digits, doing all manners of marvelous things on its shiny, salacious screen.

Some of us love Jony Ive’s team of designers at Apple more than we love our own families.  As if they were family, we lovingly show our grandparents their work when we visit.  They gawk, too. (You know you did it, if only to see Grandpap’s reaction.)

But is this newfangled machine right for you? Probably not. You’re into creating art and media, and no way will Final Cut Pro or Adobe CS4 run well on the iPad, if they ever make it there. Maybe on the third-generation model. Employees of the campus store that sell Apple products don’t expect the iPad to dent laptop sales there.

But then again, this machine wasn’t marketed to you. It won’t allow input from professional-level cameras, according to Wired.com.  According to Slate.com’s Farhad Manjoo, it’s the “perfect second computer.”

I don’t know about you, but I had trouble affording my first.

Wired said two kinds of people will buy this machine: the type of person who needs a computer to be simple—that is to say shuns complex, customizable applications in favor of intuitiveness—and the geek squad.

Manjoo said he loves the iPad because he’s a geek, and he’s into predicting the future.

He thinks the iPad and its successors will eventually do for everyone what the iPhone and iPod Touch did for their relatively few users—insert the power of data crunching and connectivity into our everyday lives. That is to say, all the aspects of our lives the sit-down model of computing failed to touch.

In my opinion—aided by thinkers like Manjoo and Columbia’s very own Daniel Sinker, a mobile tech scholar—the personal computer was only a baby step. It merely digitized the stuff that was obvious, which was nice. But now the mindset is increasingly becoming, “What can’t data-crunching help us with?” And, “What haven’t we even dreamed of?”

Already, Columbia’s iPhone junkies use their trusty smartphone to help them meet, play and laugh with friends, colleagues and professors, at concerts, bars or brunch. All 100,000 plus iPhone apps can run seamlessly on the iPad, albeit at the comparatively small iPhone size or blown up with possible pixilation.

Undoubtedly some of us have shot iPhone pics of barcodes and learned where to buy that tube of paint cheaper across town, or learned that skateboard company buys virgin timber, so maybe we should check out another. With an onboard camera and GPS (neither of which the iPad has, regrettably) the possibilities are nearly endless.

But wait; simple apps can help the creative process, too.

Plenty of Columbia music lovers already make their iPhones “listen” to songs and identify them—even download them, find remixes of them, and maybe do a little remixing themselves on the fly.

It’s these more simple things—the things we often take for granted—that sooner or later we’ll discover we didn’t even know we needed.

Will the iPad single-handedly save journalism? Some journalists are skeptical. “When the iPad saves journalism, maybe I can afford to buy one,” tweeted one reporter. However, David Pogue of the New York Times said we’re still in limbo. “Anyone who claims to know what will happen will wind up looking like a fool,” he wrote.

One thing’s for certain: as everyone decides computing power on our person is more of a necessity than a luxury, Columbia has the potential to be at the forefront. This should be our next big push.

In the mobile world we—the school and the students—can’t afford to be left behind.