I'm Afraid Brian Lam of Gizmodo Could Be Stupid
Darn it, Brian. My opinion of Gizmodo (http://gizmodo.com/) was on an upswing lately, but then you had to hammer out a revealing post entitled, "I'm Afraid an Apple Tablet Would Be Stupid." (http://i.gizmodo.com/5160598/im-afraid-an-apple-tablet-would-be-stupid) Would be fine if it focused on some fault by Apple to deliver a good tablet, but instead you shook your fingers at the tablet form factor in general, so now I gotta shake my pen at you and deliver a savage beating in ink. Nothing personal you understand. I just have a beloved PC design to defend.
First, the boilerplate (http://sumocat.blogspot.com/2006/12/hawaii-ink-if-i-had-tablet-pc-growing.html): art and graphics, note-taking, character-based languages, editing and annotations, and true mobility. If any of those appeal to you, you might be able to use a tablet. But if all you do is sit at a flat surface banging out verbiage, like Brian, it's probably not for you. The important thing is you recognize these are your own shortcomings, not a limitation of the form factor, something Brian has not done.
Brian reveals his limitations immediately by asking what we'd do with an Apple tablet. He answers with "simple web browsing, simple mail and media playback" for most users. Fair enough, but if we're talking Apple, let's assume this thing will rock a capacitive multi-touch screen (http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/multitouch.html) and an accelerometer (http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/accelerometer.html) like the iPhone and iPod touch. Sure, web surfing, email, and media playback are the big draws there, but what about those thousands of other apps? Imagine running a few of those on the Mac OS X dashboard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashboard_(software)), interacting with them as if they were iPhones on your screen.
And that's just running iPhone apps in a widget-type manner. Imagine what all the iPhone app developers could do if they were let loose on a larger, more powerful device. If you can't imagine a killer app for an Apple tablet, I bet one of them can.
Then Brian goes on to imagine, or rather, not imagine the user interface. He mentions handwriting and how he almost failed penmanship. That, of course, is his failing being projected on the form factor. He proposes a typing system that makes little sense. On a large, multi-touch screen, I'd imagine a split thumb board ala DialKeys (http://www.2fl-biz.com/dialkeys-on-screen-virtual-keyboards.html).
Brian goes on to state that no one has an idea for a new tablet UI. Clearly, he's not subscribed to my blog or else he'd be aware of my nearly iconless setup (http://sumocat.blogspot.com/2009/02/fences-clears-off-my-desktop.html) using ritePen macros to launch programs and keyboard shortcuts (http://sumocat.blogspot.com/2008/08/ritepen-nircmd-round-up.html). Of course, that's a pen-centric approach. For something geared for a multi-touch screen, check out BumpTop (http://bumptop.com/). It's fine that Brian admits he can't imagine such things, but it's just sloppy to claim no one else can either.
Brian also makes a few other snide comments, such as questioning how many Tablet PC users anyone knows. Well, I know a few and everyone who knows me knows at least one. I also know a few real editors, and they appreciate the value of marking up a document. I know a few people who can properly write their names in Kanji (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji). And I know one guy who knows mathematics (http://sumocat.blogspot.com/2007/05/microsoft-math-30-to-make-me-obsolete.html) is serious work and tough to throw down on a keyboard. Yeah, it ain't all ink blogging and cartooning, but even if it was, I'd prefer to see more of this over cookie-cutter fonts and pre-made emoticons.
Bottom line: it's one thing to admit a tablet is not the device for you. It's another to claim everyone else is as limited as you are. Ironically, if anyone should realize the value of pen input, you'd think it would be the guys who published this ridiculous mouse-drawn image (http://sumocat.blogspot.com/2007/02/this-is-why-we-need-tablets.html). How can you look at that and not think you could use pen input?
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Labels: Tablet PC
posted by Mark Sumimoto at 3/04/2009 08:51:00 PM