Those who are skeptical about the iPad and those who are in a state of rapture over it, even without handling one, are familiar personality types. It all boils down to how you see yourself living in the future, and that depends on a special kind of visualization technique.
I have a story to tell you about a friend. She’s a very bright young woman who just graduated from college. But to some extent, she’s having a problem seizing on an image for herself in the future. That is, she hasn’t yet developed a passion for what she eventually wants to be. (And for the sake of the story, I am exaggerating just a wee bit.)
When I think back to my own youth, I recall that I — and many of my friends — were inspired by something special. In my case, just one of those inspirations was the Bell Telephone/Frank Capra science series, “Our Mister Sun” and “Hemo the Magnificent.” Right away, it was easy to visualize yourself being that scientist. (Even though Dr. Frank Baxter was an English professor playing a role.)
When some people observe someone doing something cool, they often say to themselves, “That’s what I want to do too.” That happened to me during the downhill skiing events at a Winter Olympics when I was very young. It has led to 24 years of skiing as an adult.
I surmise that the same thing is happening to people who are enamored with the Apple iPad. The sum and substance of the knowledge base of the iPad, its potential for magazines, newspapers and books, connects intellectually with all the things we have aspired to for the future. In my case, just a few of the connection are Dr. Frank Poole playing chess with Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the slate devices carried around by Lt. Cmdr Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I suspect that people who’ve had a hard time figuring out what they want to be when they grow up (or even what they want to do after college graduation) are people who have a hard time visualizing themselves in the future. The same applies to visualizing themselves with an iPad. There’s no ability to take a previous situation or person or event and cast one’s self in that role, visualize it, then set about emulating that life. That requires a special kind of skill as well as the ability to engage in deferred gratification. We know that people lack that skill just from observing both those around us and some bloggers and tech writers. (And commenters to articles.) The ability to visualize yourself in the future is a necessary skill in some professions. It’s why NASA mission specialists have been required to have a Ph.D. Being able to defer gratification is essential for a Ph.D. student — or an astronaut who may not fly for years after qualification is complete.
I believe that what’s separating the enthusiasts, the techies from the other more sober analysts who are skeptical about the iPad is that visualization. Those who have been up to their ears in living in the future easily visualize all the things they want to do with the iPad — in concert with the demonstrated capabilities that the iPad has. They’ll walk out of the store on April 3rd, me included, and exploit the device to its fullest. In a real sense, we already know what we want to do with it and how we want to live with it.
For others, yawn, it’s just another boring computer that still costs too much.