The P.D. article of the week comes from Rene Ritchie at iMore. It’s all about the debate regarding the fitness of the iPad for some kinds of work. Is it a real computer, suitable to meet the needs of the modern user? Some people like to argue about that, it seems, and author Ritchie correctly points out that it’s a waste of time. Here’s the article.
Author Ritchie opens with:
Why arguing about how someone else chooses to compute, be it on an iPad or PC, says more about you than it does them.
This phenomenon is a well-known, and it’s characterized by, as author Ritchie points out, myopia and elitism. He goes on to explain, as we know, that different users have different needs. Given the capabilities, say, of a modern iPad or a Windows PC or a Linux system, productive work can be done. It’s not really helpful for authors to bash products that they don’t favor and think that they’re providing helpful guidance.
Author Ritchie makes a great case, and I recommend his work. However, I’d like to finish up here with some thoughts on the psychology of the situation. Namely, the false notion that a strident opinion about computing platforms is born of a deep understanding. The two don’t really mix.
In my experience, the most accomplished technical journalists are the ones who have both a broad and deep understanding of modern computing. That often comes from having worked for the government, military or a corporation for some time. When one is wise about the needs and experiences of modern and varied computer users, the tendency is to be more, not less, respectful of all modern platforms.
And while, as journalists, we all have our favorite platforms (mine is Mac), we have a choice when it comes to advising readers about whether our preference is so singular and enlightened that we can force it on others, especially in the name of page views.
Unfortunately, there is an influential notion that the supposed certainty of some technical facts entitles one to a bit of arrogance. It helps one feel important. But all of history shows that we’re all constantly learning and updating our knowledge. Realizing the vastness of what we don’t know ought to engender, instead, humility.
Apple knows full well that there are many people who need nothing more than an iPad or perhaps just an iPhone. The role of the technical journalist is to help everyone get the most from the platform that meets their needs best. That requires grace, professionalism, and broad experience. And a dose of humility.
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