Feeling embarrassed by new tech

By Andrew on 10th July 2017 — 2 mins read

Some iPad doodlings
Some iPad doodlings

My latest device is the iPad Pro. I have the Logitech Keyboard and, of course, a pencil. It feels like after 10 or so iterations, the iPad is finally more than just a toy. It’s a laptop alternative, and one that has the potential to help shape the future of work.

In this future, I will spend less time tinkering with technical or advanced feature sets. I’ll follow the flow of well designed apps, that anticipate most of my needs (though not all). I’ll be content to pick it up, create, share, read, play, whatever. Then put it down again – and get back out into the real world.

It’s a device for sharing early ideas, for taking and shaping notes, for scribbling and doodling. But also for more serious activities such as researching or writing. Somehow because it demands less of me technically speaking (than a laptop) and because it feels more fun, the device is humanising the technology (rather than technologising me).

This is surely the great aim. To tame technology in such a way that it doesn’t draw us in. A way that doesn’t see us spending years of our lives in Facebook or Netflix. Technology should serve our longer term interests, and help us to create at least as much as we consume. Getting stuff done quicker, doesn’t have to lead to wanting to do more digital things.

So all good right?

We’ll no. My new device takes me out of my comfort zone. I am worried about taking this new technology to work with me. It feels embarrassing or indulgent.

Embarrassing because it’s not yet common place to use this device as a work tool. I’d be out on a bit of limb. Being among the first to rock the iPad Pro as a laptop. Ok, I’ll bet there are a hundred thousand ahead of me, but it’s still early days.

Indulgent because it’s an expensive bit of kit. ‘Who thinks he’s a fancy pants designer!? is the thought I’ll be projecting into other people’s minds.

It was / is ever thus

I remember when I had my first mobile phone. I was embarrassed to make calls in pubic. It felt really showy: ‘Look at me, able to talk to my friends wherever and whenever I want!’

These days, I guess we’d feel similar embarrassment if we struck up a conversation with Siri / Cortona / Alexa / Google in public. People are just not used to it. You’d look like an idiot.

The cost of being there first

I’m not an early adopter. I’m probably a little more self conscious than most. These two facts are related. You have to be brave to get out there with a new practice, to be willing to be questioned by others.

I’m envious of those adventurous souls who’re constantly trying new tech. Not of the cost and time that it must take, but of all the new explorations and experiences that they have access to.

Ultimately of course I am a believer in Apple’s ability to pioneer in the HCI space. Impossible to deny the impact of the iPhone on user experience. It’s allowed us to dream up simpler experiences on larger computers (aka mobile first).

I didn’t get the first iPhone or the first iPad, but I’m happy to take a leap on the latest iPad Pro. With iOS 11 around the corner, it is really a mature platform. I’ll learn to live with the slight embarrassment, and the feeling of being indulgent. Frankly, I’ll be having too much fun.

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