Don’t get me wrong, I actually like touch devices (all but the iPad which I refuse simply because it is a fad symbol, not a product, but I love my iPod Touch and Kindle Fire, so agnostic between iOS and Android). But tablets are NOT the end-all, be-all. They’re actually quite limited devices, frankly computers on training wheels, which, of course, is exactly what most of the technophobic public loves, dumbed-down devices that are also fashion statements.
Now, wait, I’m also not one of those primitives who loves Emacs instead of GUIs. New can be good, new can be bad. Traditional can be good, traditional can be bad. And that’s the point, judge products by their fitness for use, not their birthdate or pedigree.
I see an article that tells me the mouse is dead. I see other articles that tell me Microsoft is dead because tablets are killing it (OMG does anyone really want their server running off iOS!). Long live tablets and anyone who doesn’t agree is just an old foggy who isn’t hip (or whatever the hip word for ‘hip’ is today). Fine, fashion fads (and word fads) among the young are harmless, but when was the last time I wanted to substitute their ignorant judgment as the final answer on real products.
Wonder Bread is the perfect image for tablets. Once upon a time bread took a little work, either to buy at a bakery and slice up, or even more work, to make yourself. So in our never ending quest to dumb-down products we invented Wonder Bread, which is really non-bread. It’s cheap and convenient and lazy and tasteless, and bad for you (here I’m siding with Pollan, reluctantly since everything else he represents is food priesthood nonsense). Bread is supposed to taste good, provide some energy, and maybe some nutrients (even the magical mystical ones Pollan believe exist if you just don’t mill wheat too much). Wonder Bread only meets the criteria of lazy and bad.
Tablets are the dumbed-down product for people who don’t want to actually use a computer for anything more than a modern version of being a couch potato plunked down in front of a TV. Tablets are for passive viewing, not production. But production of content is hard, mindless reading of silly Facebook trivia is Wonder Bread, full of air, tasteless, and anti-nutritious. Tablets are for turning your brain off, not on.
Now, OTOH, I love actual mobile devices, i.e. something you can actually put in a pocket and carry around. I think smartphones have changed the world, in some stupid ways, but on the whole in many good and innovative ways. But tablets are just dumbed-down marginally lighter/smaller laptops. They aren’t really portable, they do nothing a smartphone can’t, and they do nothing a laptop can’t. Of course that means they are wildly popular, just as Wonder Bread or Bud used to be. But hopefully when the artisan or craft movement hits computing, tablets will be a thing of the past as much as Wonder Bread, a bad idea masquerading as a fad.