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February 15, 2012

It happened. Monday late at night, and after 82 days of hibernation in favor of strictly iOS devices, I removed my MacBook Pro from the shelf. I needed to to do homework for my Accounting class; the website we need to use doesn’t support iOS. While that’s the fault of a lazy web designer and not my problem, I’m not one to sacrifice my grade for a point that I’ve already made.

I had originally planned to de-shelve my MacBook Pro at the beginning of the year, meaning that I bested my original goal by 2.5x. That’s an accomplishment, especially considering that many people thought that more than a week was impossible. Undoubtedly the argument will change to see, you could replace your traditional computer with an iPad for only 82 days! But alas, those are the people so stuck in the past that they can’t ever think of the future.

The most interesting thing I discovered in these 82 days, however, is how quickly I was ready to put my MacBook Pro away again. After doing what I needed to do, without thinking I shut my MacBook Pro off and grabbed my iPad; it’s creepy how automated I was when putting it away. It’s something that I can’t express with words, but using a traditional computer was so unnatural that I was programmed to put it away the second I didn’t need to use it.

And I think I know why using a traditional computer felt unnatural; because it is unnatural. When you think about it, using a traditional computer is one of the only things humans do which has a layer between people and the objects that they manipulate. When using a computer keyboard and mouse, people aren’t directly interacting with the content on screen.

For example, if I create a Keynote presentation on my MacBook Pro, I’m only witnessing the results of my actions with the keyboard and trackpad. That isn’t a human way to interact with anything. With iOS devices, the layer separating the content from its creator is gone. When I create a Keynote Presentation on my iPad, my fingertips manipulate the objects; I touch what I make. There isn’t a more natural way to perform tasks.

Pay attention to yourself throughout each day. Carefully examine how you manipulate every non digital object. Notice that when you want to eat food, you walk to the refrigerator, grab the handle, pull the door open, grab food, close the door, make your meal, and eat it. Notice that you didn’t push a few buttons to see your meal being made and shoved into your mouth. Every step was completed by you directly interacting with objects.

The difference between iPads and traditional computers is the difference between pulling a door open and pushing the handicap button for it to open for you. Doing vs. witnessing. It really is that simple. And any instance where a task can only be completed on a traditional computer is artificial and will change with time. The iPad has only been around for two years, the transition period has barely started.

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