The Great App Con

The first tablet was the iPad, right? Wrong. Developed in 1968, the first tablet was the Dynabook, and in some ways it was superior to the iPad. This is an excerpt from a piece by John Weldon on reading and tablet technology published on the Meanland website, an initiative on the future of reading co-auspiced by Overland and Meanjin literary journals.

“The iPad, in contrast [to the Dynabook], is a very passive device. It’s great for consuming email, Twitter, books and media, but it’s not very good at producing sophisticated content. I have tried valiantly for months to find a way to use my iPad in the creation of content, but I can’t. Sure, if I bought a keyboard for it I’d be able to word process, but I still couldn’t use any Adobe programs.

“Then there’s the great App con: these individually structured pieces of software that allow us to do very isolated tasks reasonably well, but which rarely have the functionality of their desktop equivalents and which don’t allow for easy integration. Apps fragment processes such that it’s like having one program that takes my key out of my pocket, another that puts it in my hand, a third that lets my hand put it in the lock, while a fourth is needed to actually turn it, and so on, rather than one seamless operation that does it all.”

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