How the iPad Changed My Life
Okay, the title is overly dramatic, but I am impressed with how the way I so comfortably use this machine has actually changed my habits a bit.
I bought the iPad mostly for reading. I didn't buy a keyboard for it, nor am I planning to use it for presentations. I have a laptop for that. I didn't even buy the 3g version, because I'm just using it at home or sometimes when I travel, because wifi is fairly prevalent at hotels. Initially I thought I would end up reading more books. I do have Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus on there, and I'm reading it (which is more than I can say for any other major book in the last several months).
But where it has really changed things for me is reading social media. I did a lot of that before, but honestly my blog READING (though not my writing) had declined substantially in the past year or so. This is partly a function of being really busy, but now I realize it was a function of the tools as well. I just never really liked Google Reader. I love having RSS feeds. I would DIE if my blogs came in via email. But the few times I remembered to go to Reader, I'd get depressed at the "384 unread" mark and leave. Or I'd start to read a few, which typically meant "Acronym" (good choice of name guys–because it starts with A!) and then I'd move on.
The iPad is changing this for me. First, I underestimated how satisfying the touch screen would be. I use Feeddler for my RSS feeds. It is remarkably similar to Google reader, but because I can scroll thorugh things with my fingers and touch what I want to read, I find it more satisfying. I end up reading more. It's also easy to share. In this and other social media apps there is always a button where you can tweet something out. It feels easier when I do it on the screen, rather than using a mouse.
But the real game changer (for me, related to blog reading) is Pulse. It allows me to pull in 25 (though I wish it were more) of my RSS feeds into one sleek presentation that gives me a "row" for each of my feeds, broken into tiles, each with one post. If there is a photo, it shows up on the tile. I can "flick" both vertically to scroll among my feeds, and "horizontally" across the posts in any one feed. It clearly shows which I've read, and the ones on the left edge are the newest. Even better, instead of just starring an item, I get to "pulse" it by touching a heart. This automatically posts a link to that particular blog post to a brand new blog that it automagically created for me using Posterous. I use it to mark posts that I can go back and write about later, but now there is also a blog feed that anyone could subscribe to that shows some of my favorite blog posts written by others.
The other social media app that is most impressive is Flipboard. I use this for Facebook and Twitter. It basically converts all the "updates" and tweets that I recieve into a format that looks like a magazine. When someone posts a link to a blog post on Twitter, instead of just seeing a shortened link, FlipBoard actually pulls in some of that post (including images) onto my screen. This makes it MUCH easier to decide what to actually read among the thousands of links that come my way. It's also just a flat out more enjoyable way to read through news from my friends and colleagues.
Sorry for "geeking out" a bit on a blog known more for leadership insight than social technology savvy, but there is something important about how this device has changed my habits. I was already a devoted social media-phile. But now I read blogs more than I did pre-iPad, which means I'm learning more and that means a lot to me.