Anybody who says that the iPad is the end of user-generated content or the internet does not know what they are talking about

Emily posted a link to an NPR story from yesterday I missed, “Apple’s iPad: The End of the Internet as We Know It?” Here’s a tease quote:

On its Web site, Apple boasts that the iPad makes you “feel like you are actually holding the Web right in the palm of your hand.”

Paul Sweeting, an analyst with GigaOM, sees it differently. “With the iPad,” he says, “you have the anti-Internet in your hands.”

Please.  Buy a clue.

Oddly, the review on GigaOM’s web site of the iPad seems pretty positive to me, so I’m not sure where this Sweeting guy is coming from, other than he gives good sound-bite and NPR took the bait.  In any event, as an iPad expert (for I have had one now for going on four days), let me point out some obvious things:

  • The iPad is not a computer. It is not a substitute for a desktop or laptop computer anymore than an iPhone or an iTouch are substitutes.  It might be a substitute for a netbook for some users, but that’s a debatable point.  This is not to say that you can’t do a bunch of computer things on an iPhone or iTouch (email, listen to music, surf the web to an extent, play with/use apps, etc.), and it is also true that I think that the iPad generally handles these tasks better than its smaller ancestors.  But no one should think that they can get an iPad instead of a computer.  That’s just dumb.
  • No one is stopping you from uploading your own music and videos to the iPad. Again, just as is the case with the iPhone and iTouch, you can put whatever music, podcasts, or movies that iTunes can handle on the thing, and that includes stuff ripped from other sources.  Like everyone else in America, I have music on my computer that I did not pay for (most of it is stuff I checked out from the library) and I have a few videos that I ripped with the help of Handbrake.  I transferred them to the iPad, played them, and the Apple police have yet to knock on my door.  And of course, if you create the music or video content yourself, you can play that on the iPad too.
  • No one is stopping you from making and distributing your own ePubs that are then readable on the iPad. And while I haven’t done this yet, there are a number of pretty easy to use conversion tools out there that will take that novel that has been rejected by every publisher out there and turn it from a .doc file into a .epb file.  From there, you can just slap it up on the web at your own site or use one of the various distribution networks for such things and completely bypass the Apple store.  Users can download your ePub, import it into iTunes, upload it to their iPad.  Done.
  • The iPad has some pretty cool apps for actually making content as it is. Pages and Keynote are both pretty slick, and when it comes to layout, the touchpad might make it easier for novice artists like me to move around images and stuff by just touching them instead of dragging them with a mouse.  Plus I’ve got Brushes (a paint program that I wish I was more talented to use better), Draw (simple drawing program), iAnnotate PDF, Dragon Dictation (though I don’t know how well that one works yet), and Whiteboard.

Honestly, I do not get what the haters are getting at.  It ain’t the end of anything; at best, the iPad is the beginning of something else.

5 thoughts on “Anybody who says that the iPad is the end of user-generated content or the internet does not know what they are talking about”

  1. This has taken on aspects of a holy war for some. I’m pretty much in your camp.

    One thing I’ve noticed in meta review, writing and publishing from the iPad does seem harder than it needs to be. It does strike me that you should just be able to write away in the iPad and have some easier cloud based solution for storing your apps. Maybe that solution is Mobile Me, but most people seem perplexed by that experience.

  2. Great points, especially with the specifics of what people *can* create on the iPad.

    You’ve probably seen Cory Doctorow’s piece on this issue? ( A lot of his problem is that the apps and software that let you create content all have to be produced by (or at least vetted by, sold by, distributed by, etc.) Apple. He’d rather see a tablet that encourages you to open it up both physically and in terms of software, so that anyone who wants can create new hardware to plug into it and anyone who wants can move beyond the App Store distribution model.

    While I tend to agree with him about how exciting that model is, I also appreciate your reminder that we stay down-to-earth in our rhetoric about all this–that we not scoff at apps just because they come from the App Store. Thanks!

  3. Bud, I think Apple really wants to push the MobileMe service for this in a big way; that might be a good option for a lot of people, but I’m not interested in paying for it. But there is also something called that I just discovered. Basically, if you’ve got iWork for your home computer (I think you have to have it for your home computer at least), you can set up this account space where you can share stuff easily, kind of like Google Docs, I think. Check out for more; it looks quite promising.

    You can also get stuff you make on your iPad off of it via email and when you synch it with a computer– another step, granted, but like I said before, the iPad ≠ computer.

    Kyle, I think Cory’s essay was interesting, but I also think he’s wrong on at least three different levels. First, it’s not an either/or situation: no reason why you can’t have both an iPad and something you can crack open and let users decide which one they want. Second, Doctorow is talking about 1 out of every 1,000 users/people out there. I mean, I am pretty techno-literate and very “wired” in all sorts of different ways, but I have never opened up a computer (well, I did install RAM once), I have no interest in “tinkering” with the hardware, and I’d rather use software that someone wrote than make my own.

    And third, people do write programs for the iPad/iPhone and get them distributed via the App store all the time. I’m not disagreeing with Doctorow that the level of control that Apple is exercising is perhaps problematic, but it’s not quite as bad as he suggests. And let’s face it: if Apple is going to allow at least a dozen different apps that allow one to produce fart sounds, the level of control they are exercising is not that great.

  4. as the original poster of the link :), i completely agree with you – although i do not yet have an ipad in my possession, i am cautious of any argument that a new technology is poised to revolutionize culture/writing/reading/another technology such as the internet/etc. as dennis baron astutely points out in his latest blog post , change takes time and ultimately depends on the user: how we will adapt (and adapt to) the ipad, for instance through some of the behaviors you mention here, will make the difference.

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