The iPad Vision - Seeing Yourself in the Future

| Editorial

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.

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Or there may just be people who can visualize, but who don’t visualize the iPad being exactly what they want. When the eeePC was first announced, I was over the moon in love with it, and visualized a tiny laptop being my main/only computer, along with all the little things that go along with it. When the MSI Wind came out, and turned out to be the ideal computer for hacking Leopard onto, I was there, and did it. I type this post on my now, nearly 2 years old Mac Nano. wink It is my dream computer—the sort of computer I’ve been dreaming of since I had to put aside my Duo 2300, and move forward about a decade ago (bought a Pismo). Before that, and up until 2005, my Newton was my main squeeze (so to speak). However, for myself, I find my Nano to be ideal. I’ve also since retired my Newton, and my iPhone has filled its shoes. Between my Netbook and iPhone, I don’t have any hunger for an iPad.

Maybe the time will come when I will want to go another path, but for now, it doesn’t fit my vision. Does this mean that, according to you, I lack a vision? Just because my vision doesn’t include the iPad as yours does? Sadly, that is how your article seems to come across. Maybe a bit of a nip and tuck will help you not sound so needlessly divisive. I personally don’t think you think that way, but I fear your article can easily be perceived that way.


John Martellaro

I think I’m off the hook with this sentence in the editorial:

“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.”

With the key phrase being “with the demonstrated capabilities that the iPad has.”

In other words, the iPad’s capabilities capture some people’s imagination and they already know what they want to do with it.

So it’s only in the context of the iPad’s capabilities, not vision in general. I think you read too much into my meaning.


For me, my dislike of the iPad is because I -can- visualize:
I can visualize myself spending $500 that I could spend on something else.
I can visualize myself having yet another gadget to lug around, to accidentally spill coffee on, to have to charge.

I want to simplify my life. The iPhone was perfect for me: no more need for BOTH an iPod and a cellphone, plus I get the internet and so much more.

But now Apple wants me to become addicted to a new product category. Something that doesn’t replace my laptop, or my cellphone. I’m saying, thanks, but, no.

I think if the iPad was something closer to a touch-based MacBook Air with an optional keyboard, they might be on to something. I can live with the locked down nature of the iPhone, because its not my main computer. As long as the iPad has all the limitations of the iPhone, there’s no way it can replace your laptop. So, Apple, I hope you continue do well, I really do, but I’m not with you on this one.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I have to agree with a couple other commenters here… I know you didn’t mean to come off this way John, but it does kinda come like “if you don’t love the iPad, you just don’t have any vision.”

Here’s my vision for the iPad. A full screen app in landscape mode with two bikini clad beach babes, a wifi detector in the top right 1/16 of the screen, and a Pandora audio widget down at the bottom right. Strangely, it looks a lot like my ASUS Eee PC t91mt, running Windows 7 Home Ultimate. But Apple has said that my vision isn’t an appropriate vision for their device, as it relies on mutli-tasking, undocumented APIs, and women not dressed to the 9s in their burqas.

John Martellaro

I really think you guys are “over reading” my intentions here.


You are right when you say the critical line is

in concert with the demonstrated capabilities that the iPad has.?

So far the iPad has NO demonstrated capabilities. We’ve seen a sales demo, but a lot of products look great in the sales demo.  We’ve seen ads, but a lot of things look great in ads. There’s been a lot of noise on the web about the iPad, but at this point none of us has actually SEEN one,  PLAYED with one, taken one for a TEST DRIVE. Until I get my hands on one and see for myself how it will work for me, I’m interested but will withhold my excitement. Not because I cannot see myself using one. Not because I have trouble visualizing the future.

I’m sceptical because I’ve seen a lot of devices that look good in the hands of the salesman but turned out to not really perform as advertised. There’s an experience factor that you’ve overlooked.


I’m with you, John. After watching a live blog when the iPad was announced, my initial reaction was that the iPad was no big deal. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it really could and probably will be a major game changer.

The time for having to deal with such minutiae as files and, instead, concentrating on the task at hand is long overdue and the iPad enables just that. And I think that once application developers have had a chance to think about the possibilities, some iPad apps are going to be amazing way beyond what we can even imagine right now.


Too bad I can’t edit my posts (surely you can do better, TMO grin.

Anyway, I left out the text “is long past” after the phrase “having to deal with such minutiae as files”.


I really think you guys are ?over reading? my intentions here

I tried to explain that your post can be perceived as divisive, and your pull quote in your reply to me is precisely the quote that I found divisive. Let me quote it again:

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


For others, yawn, it?s just another boring computer that still costs too much.

You left people simply no other choice. Either it was living in the future=in favor of the iPad, or it was no vision=no iPad.

It was this final paragraph or two that created the dichotomy, and was particularly where you lost me.

Question. Where were you when the Newton was the future? I’m curious what your attitude towards the Newton was. It truly was a groundbreaking device. It didn’t merely abstract the file system. It obliterated it. And it did it in such a way that each app was not a silo, only self-aware, and ignorant of the rest of the Newton, but each app was part of a whole, and the whole worked together as one. That was truly futuristic, and it worked! I used Newtons from 1995 until 2005. And since that day, I’ve never found any handheld to replace it. I use my iPhone now, and I had to jailbreak it to get it to do what I want.

I don’t merely visualize what is possible. I’ve stood on the mountain top. I’ve breathed the air, and the iPad is nothing more than a postcard view of that! Let me turn this around a bit.

“Those who visualize what the iPad can do have small visions of what they want their handheld to do. The true wonder and joy of the freedom of standing on the mountain top escapes their small view.”

You see, while my intent is not to offend those who love the iPad, I can guarantee that fans of the iPad who read the above _will_ be offended. And yet, all I did was express my own opinion, based on my expectations for what a handheld can do. However, simply characterizing my views in such a personal manner creates a dichotomy (and a false one here, as computers are personal). It was that nature of your article where it fell short.

So, my final question. When will Apple or anybody for that matter, produce something that would make the Newton proud? THAT is what I visualize, and am waiting for. Sorry, but the iPad is not that device.

BTW (and just so you know, my quote above is not really my view), I do have a great vision for the iPad—only not for me. I see my parents truly enjoying it, and I would also love to do the following in my home—buy one iMac. That would be the family work computer. When my daughters need to do projects for school, or my wife needs to create invitations or write longer documents, etc., the iMac would be there. Everybody in the family would also have their own iPad. Those iPads would be used for daily email and web, and also for light writing, etc. They would also sync to the iMac. That’s my vision. My only problem is getting my family to see my vision. wink



Vacuous whinging

Words of the day as it applies to so much of the above

John Many of us understand your thoughts as you stated. The Kabuki dance that goes on and on is drivel. I think the blog can be saved if admin deletes the vastermasterwordsmiths that kvetch and ?whinge? just to be noticed



I take it, then, that you are one of the ones that got offended? Sheesh.



Where concept meets reality: “in concert with the demonstrated capabilities that the iPad has.? Reality has, for a certain faction of latest-gizmo enthusiasts, fallen short of their visions of the future.

Perhaps part of the negative views from certain factions also has to do with visualization of the future as opposed to lack of visions. There are those who do visualize themselves running around like a Star Fleet officer, iPad in hand, doing a myriad of tasks from reading the morning department brief to analyzing the latest level 2 diagnostic of the internal sensor system. While few actually expect a 23rd century device, there were some levels of expectation that were, quite frankly, not met in this first version. Many of them have been discussed in depth (and beyond).


You could look at it as glass half full or glass half empty scenario.  Those who see the glass as half full are as you state John.  The iPad creates visions of what can be, a world where the computer begins to become a personal gadget with which to get work done and to enjoy at one’s leisure. I can see it with me at all times. I see it mounted in cars, used for home automation, leveraged by field workers and all for a price substantially less than the alternatives. No stylus to lose, simple interface, no file system to navigate, the perfect tool for a mobile workforce of all types of workers.

The glass half empty people, or those lacking vision as you will see only what the critics spew.  They will complain that it lacks this and that, but in the end it will create an entire new market and force Apple rivals to once again scratch their heads.  This is not about whether an individual can justify their purchase, it is about what it will do to move business and consumers to a future that will ultimately be free of the computer as we know it today.

Remember the iPhone?  How did that one work out?  Same negative arguments by the same vision lacking fools…..  History is destined to repeat itself.


Do I see myself using SOMETHING like the iPad? Yes, enthusiastically.
Is this style of device where casual computing is going? IMO without question.
Is the iPad likely to be the flagship of this first generation of this class of device? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Even if I believe that pad style computing is the wave of the future, which I do, I want to see this device in real world conditions. I want to play with one. I want to read reports from people that have used one for a month. Where does it fail and where does it triumph. Then I’ll make up my mind. This is not from a lack of vision. It’s from a well founded caution.  I’ve owned both a PowerBook 190 AND 5300. I was an early adopter of the ZipDisk. I’ve bought a number of high tech devices over the years that were supposed to be the new wave that would change everything only to fail totally. Companies including Apple don’t always get things right on the first try.

To the core premise in the article
“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.”

The implied point being that either you are head over heals gonzo about the iPad or you have the Vision of a clam. I reject that premise completely. It sets up a false “Y’all are either wit us or agin’ us” division that is as fallacious and vacuous as when on recent politician used it. I ignores the large group of people, myself included, that are in the “This could be great, could be cool, could be game changing, but you need to prove it works as advertised” camp. In that I have an advantage. The iPad isn’t getting released here in Canada for nearly a month. That’s plenty of time to read how all of you south of the border are faring with your new toys. Until then, I’m withholding my wild enthusiasm for the iPad. I’ll probably end up getting one but Apple has to show me it works for real people, not just SJ and sales people in Demo Videos. 500-800 clams is a lot of money. I won’t buy something that expensive sight unseen.

As the old saying goes: The Early Bird Gets the Worm but the SECOND Mouse Get’s the Cheese.


It’ll probably pan out the same way the iPhone did.

A bunch of early adopters help drive future prices down, while the specs up for revision 2 and 3, meanwhile third parties will hopefully give the thing some unique purpose over the next couple of years.

In the meantime, the uber-faithful have the pleasure of posting meaningless smack-talk at the less enthusiastic (as observed), meanwhile the rest of us save a wodge of cash, perhaps for some other magical purpose, and avoid some of that nasty accelerated obsoletism that usually stings the first gen.

Then I might jump in, if it’s jailbroken.

That’s my vision (now gimmie gimme fried chicken)

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