My first iPad wasn’t in fact mine. I merely had it on loan from the office. We danced and we played together but eventually, I had to hand it back. However, a couple of weeks ago (and thanks to some smart upselling from Vodafone), I picked up my own one.

This time an iPad2. Glorious.

This is the first time I’ve had an iPad ‘full time’ so to speak, and being a part-time student and observer of how technology influences human behavioural change, I’ve been keeping an eye on its influence on me.

The results so far? I’m reading more.

Allow me to explain: last year, I wrote about how the iPad did not mean the death toll for the publishing industry – and I stand by that. But, recently, I happened to come by an issue of The Economist’s lifestyle and culture quarterly, Intelligent Life (IL). It was my first encounter with said publication and, hidden deep within its pages, it featured a rather fantastic article entitled ‘Digital Africa‘. A super-relevant piece of writing and a subject that is dear to my heart. With that article alone, the magazine had found itself a new subscriber.

Later (and I don’t know how I discovered it, one assumes there must’ve been an ad somewhere inside), I soon learnt that IL had its own free iPad app. Even better. I thought, I know a lot of people with iPads and I know a lot of people that would enjoy that Digital Africa article. So… I’ll tell everyone who fits both those descriptions and that’ll be great.

I do, and it is.

Weeks later, my iPad2 arrives and the first app I download? IL. On top of the Digtial Africa copy, there’s a new issue available. I download that and read it, cover to cover, over the course of an afternoon.

‘Interesting’ being the key word here.

Confession time: I don’t read (in the traditional sense) as much as I’d like. It’s not a healthy admission to make, but it’s true. The, what might be seen as, usual time for reading – on the tube to and from work in the mornings and evenings – is usually taken up by writing. My Moleskine is my best friend when I’m travelling and I use the dead [read: ‘disconnected’] time to jot down my thoughts. Failing that, if my mind is bare, I catch up on email or just sit and listen to music. My daily reading habits tend to be made up of my Google Reader and that’s it.

However, upon finishing my second i-issue of IL, I then figured I’d give the Kindle a go. My sister and I bought one for our Mum recently and a few other friends have also extolled its virtues. I’ll get the app I say, that’ll do it.

I did, and it did.

The Kindle app is sitting quite nicely on my iPad as I type with ‘The Psychopath Test‘ by Jon Ronson (thank you Amanda) and ‘The Black Swan‘ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (thank you Jed) both sat ready to be read.

We’ll see how this goes, shall we? New technology, encouraging me to read. This I’m going to enjoy.

Before I close off though, there’s one last thing I want to share. Back in January 2010, mobile thought leader and visionary, Christian Lindholm, wrote these words about the iPad.

It may seem like a small change, but a generation which has instant access, quite literally, at its fingertips, will be a quite different generation to that which did not. We used to consider that someone was erudite if they had spent a number of years accumulating knowledge and expertise which they could deploy at the precise moment which it was required.
Given that this information is all now on hand, people will come to rely more on an ability to recall data from the system. Ability to focus, and knowledge of the best places to look, will become the most important facets to consider. These are fundamental changes.

It’s still one of my favourite blog posts to date and I think that, in this age of the information rich, the sentiment stands true:

Irrespective of your thoughts on what the iPad is for, these shifts in the way we store, recall and interact with knowledge signify a human behavioural change that we – in our lifetimes – will probably never be able to truly quantify.




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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

20 thoughts on “Learn”

  1. Totally with you! Am in the midst of reading a book called Bounce about table tennis. I’m loving it. I read it on the iPad late at night and I read it on the iPhone when I have a spare five mins on the train. My books per month has the potential to go through the roof…

    Thanks for tip on Intelligent Life being available as an app. I bought a copy at the airport on holiday. Great read…

  2. Have you thought buying a Kindle to complement your reading?

    whatleydude Reply:

    No need, I’ve got the Kindle app on my iPad! 🙂

    Jim Reply:

    The problem with the Kindle app on the iPad is that the iPad is too heavy for one-handed use and the screen hurts my eyes reading at night which is why I’m considering getting a Kindle as well….

    whatleydude Reply:

    You do know you can turn the brightness down in the app settings right?

    I was suffering in the same way until I found that…

  3. Black Swan will change your life. That’s a great recommendation. Especially if you like IL. Gonna be right where your head lives, James.

    Better discovery and better portability. That’s evidently the key.

  4. I had the same initial experience with the iPad as you – on loan from work. I’m a pretty staunch anti-Apple guy (with the notable exception of my beloved iPod Classic, which I don’t even sync with iTunes (MediaMonkey FTW!)), but I felt like I needed to experience the iPad.

    We also have a Kindle at home, and I’ve since given the iPad back and been using the Toshiba Thrive, a widescreen Honeycomb tablet.

    With all that, I’m seriously considering purchasing an iPad for my very own. Unfortunately, if I get one, I’ll have to get one for Christina, too, which makes it prohibitively expensive.

    However, I experienced the same thing you did – increased *consumption*. I said a long time ago that the iPhone (and pretty much any iOS device) is a content CONSUMPTION device, not creation, and it still rings true. I think the key is the way content is presented (i.e., the apps). You mention one above – Flipboard was also an app on the iPad that cause a fundamental shift in how I consume content – Facebook, Twitter, Greader, etc.

    Another great example for me is Wired magazine. I have a subscription (a fleeting attempt at replacing the awesome but deceased Business 2.0 magazine), so when I got the iPad, I setup the Wired app and connected it with my subscription. New editions were downloaded automatically and I was alerted, which was awesome.

    The two editions that I received on my iPad I literally read every single page – not skimmed, but *read*, and interacted with. The one edition that has arrived via snail mail since then? Couldn’t even tell you the cover story.

    As much as I hate to admit it, I really think I want an iPad again.

  5. ‘The Psychopath Test‘ by Ron Johnson.

    Shome mishtake shurely. I guess you mean Jon Ronson? Or did I miss a gag?

    whatleydude Reply:

    Ha! You’re spot on, I’ll correct it now

    Thank you 🙂

  6. We hear too much about the iPad. What about other tablets? I have been successfully using the 7″ Galaxy Tab for about 8 months now for everything discussed above and because of its size, it is much easier to hold like a paperback in one hand. You can have Kindle software across a number of devices (as mentioned above), so you can keep reading in various places. I also have an iPod Touch and use Kindle on this and have recently installed Kindle on my desktop. The Whisper technology keeps the book synched on all the devices. Lots of different apps are also available for the Android OS.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Hey Gary, I don’t have any other tablets hence not being in a position to blog about them. However, your insight is appreciated and I’m glad you’re enjoying the learning process also 🙂

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