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What happened when I got an iPad for Christmas

By Pamela Weatherill - posted Friday, 6 January 2012

Let me start out really clear.  I am usually an early adopter of technology – usually.  However when tablet computers were introduced I was also frequently heard saying: “I don't see what I would use a tablet computer for,” in both my technophile and luddite circles. My usually active socio-techno imagination was sluggish and saw little use for a tablet computer other than for note taking – which to be fair, was their original main use.

When I first got a Palm pilot I wished it would integrate with my mobile, then I wished my (very large by today’s standards) mobile would double as an MP3 player and that my (oh so light 6kg!) laptop would be able to access the internet wirelessly and take photographs.    I always saw the potential in devices that they didn’t quite reach – until the next version was released.  The lament of the early adopter.  Theoretically, you would think I would be the ideal tablet PC consumer.  All my favourite mobile and PC applications on one device – except my mobile phone.  A wireless, 3G connected, light and sexy looking device was at hand- but I had been burned before.

I’m old enough to have lost the battle of Beta versus VHS and it may have scarred me somewhat. While seeing the world of technology through these slightly damaged lenses, I may not have observed how slight the gap has become between devices and software, systems and applications.  Neither had I noticed that a device which could attend to pretty much everything other than my personal care needs, or make a (non video) phone call, was waiting for me online.  I hadn’t even considered that a tablet PC would stop me from having to make that all-important decision facing all bibliophiles at the moment – which e-reading device to go with.


While I love technology, from a well designed Mont Blanc pen to my nifty Android mobile, I have never been a fan of the ‘always on’ mentality that has accompanied Web 2.0 ICT.  I never take my laptop on holidays, though it does accompany me to work-related conferences. I regularly ignore my mobile phone if I am out socialising – preferring the intimacy of face-to-face conversations. Friends know that I can take days to respond to answering machine messages until I’m in the mood, and as I am perched in front of my laptop for hours for vocational ends – I can take just as long to respond to personal emails, Tweets and Facebook comments. I sometimes like silent contemplation – and carrying around digital communication devices can interfere with that. And thus I work hard to resist the ‘always on’ mentality of mobile devices – except to occasionally peek at social goings on, on networking sites.  So surely a tablet computer would just be an extraneous addition to my digital life?

Enter Christmas 2011, and a possible personal technical revolution. Finally, without having a chip embedded in my wrist or forehead, a device is starting to ‘do it all’ and ‘be it all’ in my life.  Having already been exposed to the wonder that is the ‘app’ and ‘wireless-anywhere’ developments on my Smart phone,  and my laptop’s cloud computing , personal organisation and information storage facility– you really wouldn’t think there would be any surprise for me in using a tablet.  In this personal technical revolution I find that I can quickly and easily (and for once literally “just for a minute”) check my email or social networking sites. I can sit my tablet on the kitchen bench to produce gastronomic creations (with handy apps to convert the measurements). It syncs with all my calendars and to do lists. It stores my current readings and presentations. And oh, the luxury of not having to decide on an e-reader format, and try a few at once instead. I can communicate by digital text or video from this powerful little PC and joy of joys don’t need my reading glasses to check my email.  It’s extended battery life, smaller size and quick response to frequent activities has it already replacing my laptop for everything, except laborious word processing.

I still need to carry my mobile phone, but hope is in sight, as a number of companies are developing a mid size tablet (or a large size phone depending on how you view it), which in the next tablet-generation may literally be the ‘be all’ we have been waiting for. What I love best is the feeling of one-place-fits-all organisation, and being able to quickly and easily access so many applications and use them to enhance daily activities or save time – all without having to be tucked away in my office or drag out the laptop and wait for it to boot up.  This may not seem like a big deal to those not yet converted to the wonders of the tablet PC, but believe me if you are one my peers who stands in front of the microwave oven coaching “come on – hurray up” – you too could be in for a personal technical revolution. For once I wish I had of adopted the technology earlier.

Much of this will not be new for many of you. You will have heard others rave about what they do with their tablet PC (and why they can’t do without it) - or you have one.  The realisation for me since I unwrapped my tablet PC, is that we live in an age where how we connect to others is up to us and our careful use of the technology we adopt. I can still choose to ignore social networking and email messages when I am in company or busy with tasks requiring my full attention – or not. The difference being, I have quick, easy access to everything I enjoy from pictures to books, information and gossip. Most excitedly it fits into the new handbag that was under the Christmas tree too.

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About the Author

Pamela Weatherill is a technology social scientist, currently undertaking a PhD on computer mediated communication and teaching online at Edith Cowan University Perth, and residing in Queensland. She has a number of journal and magazine (and e-zine) publications and a Blog (on computer mediated communications) at

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