“I Should Get A Tablet”

“I should get an iPad”, I woke up this morning with that thought in my head. It was a strange thought to wake up to, and so I gave it some thought. If this question was asked a few years ago, I’d have said yes, and promptly acquired a tablet. But now, in 2014, I seriously questioned the need.

I am no stranger to living life with a tablet. A few years ago, I had an experimental run with an Android tablet and briefly, an iPad 2. These eventually fell into disuse. It didn’t change my life much. It was a curious thing though – the tablet changed the habits of people I know. I had felt a tablet didn’t add much to my life.

Then I started to ask why. I looked around at the people around me who use their tablets on an extremely regular basis and did a quick tally of what they do with it. The people I know who regularly use their tablets watch a lot of videos on their tablets – news, talk shows, documentaries, anime, and the like. They also read a lot of stuff on their tablets: buzzfeed, 9gag, reddit, pocket/instapaper, manga, comics and the like. Lastly, they also play casual games on it like that word game where the aim is to pick up words as quickly as possible, or the one where you run and collect coins. I then recalled what I did when I experimented living with a tablet – reading was mainly it. There was also the occasional Jetpack Joyride or Fruit Ninja of course, but for the most part it was reading reddit, digg and hackernews. The Android tablet had quite a terrible experience if I recall correctly, and by the time I played around with the iPad, my habits have changed.

This was where I realized that I don’t need a tablet. Because of late, I have not been doing much of the above – watching videos, reading news or playing games. In fact, my habits have changed a lot over the years, and I’m not sure what to make of it. I started tracking my productivity in 2008, mainly with RescueTime (there was a period where I fell back to manual entry with a spreadsheet). In 2008, my average annual productivity was at 42. By 2013, my yearly average productivity was 72. This year I aim for much much higher levels of productivity.

Another comment that came to mind was a comment my partner made while at a restaurant waiting for food. She had mentioned if it were a few years back, I’d be obsessively reading reddit or hacker news or twitter on my phone while waiting for food. I simply… stopped doing that. Though I have no proper idea why, I have a feeling that was the same reason why I wrote The Slow Web movement manifesto.

Perhaps then, I figured, that tablets don’t fit into my lifestyle because I’ve moved from a primarily consuming lifestyle (consuming media, games, etc) to a primarily producing lifestyle (I started writing more code, doing more statistical analyses, and hacking hardware and bioware for fun). But the counter argument to that is that you can use tablets for productivity, which was why the Surface Pro was such a big deal (let down only by the inability for me to install Linux on it without serious work).

And so I’m back to square one. Tablets don’t seem to fit into my life. I have no idea why. I often wonder if it’s because I’m becoming older and more resistant to change. But for every argument of that, I seem to have a counter-argument. I think I am fairly cutting edge when it comes to new technology – I have played with most new technology and new gadgets. For example, I can see more use with a 3D printer than I can with a tablet. But both are not relevant enough to make it in my life to be used on a regular basis.

I was excited about drones about 2.5-ish years ago, when I had planned to drive into the outback to release a bunch of perpetually floating drones. Last year, drones and UAVs really took off, and all I could think of was “meh”. I could not even muster a single bit of excitement when my friends finally started talking about it. Am I becoming too cynical? Or just growing old and cranky?

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