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May 21, 2012

Will tablets always make us non-social consumers?

I know that tablets these days are “lean back” devices on which we “consume” “content.” (“When Life Becomes All Scare Quotes: ‘Film’ at 11”) But I keep hoping that that’s because they’re at the beginning of their tech curve.

After all, we’ve shown pretty convincingly over the past fifteen years that if you lower the barriers sufficiently, we will flood the ecosystem with what we want to say, draw, animate, video, carve, etc. Tablets raise those barriers significantly: I do much less typing and even less linking when I’m using my tablet (a Motorola Xoom, by the way — love it). But that’s because typing on a virtual keyboard is a pain in the butt.

I thus think (= hope) that it’s a mistake to extrapolate from today’s crappy input systems on tablets to a future of tablet-based couch potatoes still watching Hollywood crap. We’re one innovation away from lowering the creativity hurdle on tablets. Maybe it’ll be a truly responsive keyboard. Or something that translates sub-vocalizations into text (because I’m too embarrassed to dictate into my table while in public places). Or, well, something.

The fact that we’re not sharing nearly as much when we use a table is evidence of a design flaw in tablets.

I hope.

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