At the Ref Desk (4/25/17): Someone calls but when I pick up the phone all I get is background noise -- people talking, etc. Did he or she just sit on their smartphone and dial out accidentally? Interesting jumping off point for a work of fiction... [more...]
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Tablet

Dueling Visions of our Tablet Future

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 5/26/14 (9:46am)

Casey Johnston:

"Few people try to or want to use tablets like laptops, save for when they feel like they have to justify the cost and get every last inch of mileage out of it."

Wired Gadget Lab Staff:

"I don’t want a laptop. I don’t want a tablet. I want a tablet-shaped laptop-looking thing with a snap-on keyboard and a kickstand and a 3:2 screen and an Intel Core processor and a stylus and it has to run full Windows. Bueno?"

(Discussion precipitated by Microsoft's recent release of the Surface Pro 3.)

Techno-Infatuation Disorder (TID)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 2/9/11 (5:38pm)

So let's say the iPad Fairy™ comes down and gives everyone at your school a free iPad. Miracle, right?

Well, apparently not at Stanford's School of Medicine. As an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education explains:

But when Stanford's School of Medicine lent iPads to all new students last August, a curious thing happened: Many didn't like using them in class.... In most classes, half the students had stopped using their iPads only a few weeks into the term.

How's this possible? Didn't they hear their own Assoc. Dean Charles Prober describe these same students as "extremely tech-savvy" in a press release earlier in the year:

Because the population of new students is extremely tech-savvy, it makes sense to teach them through the use of the electronic devices they're familiar with, Prober said, adding, "We can either say, 'That's silly. They have to learn the old-fashioned way.' Or we embrace where they are."

Yup, 'embrace where they are'! That's the spirit!

Only they didn't. And you're entitled to ask where exactly 'they' -- in this case the extremely tech-savvy incoming class -- where exactly 'they' are.

Well, wouldn't you know, Stanford provides us with an answer! Every year the University conducts a survey of incoming students as to their computer use and in 2009, for example, they found that "90% have a Windows or Mac laptop".

So basically an overwhelming majority of students already have a computing device. It's called a laptop.

Of course the notion that a laptop might be more useful to students in college than an iPad, even in this day and age, never seems to dawn on the administrators. Instead they seem to be afflicted with a serious case of 'techno-infatuation disorder' or 'TID' for short. This is where the desire to be seen buying the latest tech gizmo overrides any consideration of whether the intended audience might actually want to use it.

Now if the administrators at Stanford's Medical School truly believed their students were 'extremely tech savvy', they might have left the decision of what to bring into the classroom up to the students themselves. But again, we're talking techno-infatuation disorder here and considerations such as what our users might actually want fade in comparison to what we might want for them.

Topic: 
Institution: 

Our Brave New Digital World

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 6/17/10 (8:47pm)

headstoneRIP_226x222.pngDoes the iPad mean the end of the (free) Web as we know it? Apparently this guy thinks so. Of course, this is hardly the first time that someone's pounced on the latest Gadget de Jour and built out from there a Brave New Digital World for the rest of us.

Then again:

  • Estimated sale of iPads for 2010: 4.3 million *
  • Estimated sale of netBooks for 2010: 44 million **

So we're supposed to ignore the larger number and assume that these clueless tens of millions are going to drop their open access devices packed with such wildly popular 'app stores' as 'Download.com' -- all in favor of a garden full of pay-walls?

Sounds like a tough sale to me.

Institution: