The iPad as Emotion-Centered Computing

Not Everything on the iPad is An Easy Drink - Share on OviA lot has been made about the term”post-PC” that Steve Jobs used during the introduction of the iPad 2. And while I can get the point that he (and others such as Nokia calling the N95 a mobile computer) was trying to make. The fact is that tablets, smartphones, and most microprocessor-equipped, computing devices are still just “personal computers.” They still require a level of task management that isn’t intuitive to but a certain sect of personality types.

That argument tends to hold if we maintain that computing is the calculation of factors or events which are isolated from psychological effects. That is, computing is seen as negative to the psychosis if it engages the emotional or spiritual aspects of our humanity. I prefer to think that once certain computations become “natural” that we do engage those emotional or spiritual aspects of ourselves, and then begin internally – and then externally – developing activities and behaviors which have a functional effect on our minds and spirits as they do our environments and communications.

But, when I change the interaction layer – when I remove that meditator between manipulating something that interrupts an action that manipulates pixels/graphite/ink – I then open that door for something more profound to take place. By nature of actually engaging such an overarching sense – touch – I now open the possibility that mentally or spiritually, I am attached to the change I am inducing. The acknowledgement that my actions directly influence my environment, my perceptions of an environment, or collectively change future-history is what the area of humanities in academia explores. Getting attached at that level is what Jobs was trying/is succeeding to get folks to see in respect to the iPad. It is to this extent, that PC is being redefined.

Attach yourself to a task and what happens? You get into a zone. You get more creative. You get emotionally invested. Draw that analogy to computing. Do you get into a zone using a mouse? No, at least not if you aren’t drawing something, clicking on a link/game, or something that provokes another sense (usually visual) to be stimulated. Do you get into a zone using a keyboard? Yes, because in addition to your mind crafting the message, your fingers are also becoming co-creators of the moments leaving your mind and becoming sharable on some media. Now, what about a touchscreen? What happens when you take away the dexterity of manipulating something not attached to your nervous system and the language of your minds immediately becomes “life” under your fingertips? You get invested. Mentally invested. Intellectual invested. Emotionally invested.

Hence this defining of tablet computing as something “post-PC.” It is post-PC not because you are doing something totally beyond computing and communicating events and tasks. No, it is now that you are closer to your nervous system’s speed to translating mental impulses into something that appears under your fingertips immediately. There is no interpreter (unless you really want to count the screen as one). There is your thought, and then the product. It’s the same level of friction that Jeff Hawkins is so famous for implementing into the Palm Pilot, and why it too became a successful paradigm shift for personal organization and communication (aka, computing).

Using an iPad is different because it removes enough of the artifical interlopers that your internal interlopers now become the friction between what is thought and what is shared. The level of computing is now at that of your emotion. What do you want to share? What do you want to engage in? How important is one connection or activity over another? This decision happens inside of you, and immediately appears under your fingers.

That’s the computing revolution we are in right now. And here lies the fun question (especially for the “singularity” thinkers): are we ready to assume the responsibility for what’s in our minds, whether or not we are the author of what stimulated our minds? If I were paying attention to Apple, Google, Facebook, etc., then I would answer “no.” Otherwise, why would those managed experiences dictate what is good, true, innovative, and culture changing?

Something to think about isn’t it?

One thought on “The iPad as Emotion-Centered Computing

Comments are closed.