The desktop revolution of the 80’s empowered us to create, not just consume texts. Desktop publishing is a concept most users take for granted, but was certainly a significant change from the typewriter. As Cynthia Selfe (1996) points out, prior to the 1980’s, most executives dictated texts to their assistants, rather than typing themselves. She states that even in the mid-1990s, e-mail represented “one of the few text literacy environments in our culture whose use is expanding rather than shrinking.” The past two decades have been chaotic in their creative output, thanks in part to the affordances of our burgeoning technologies.
The iPad feels like a step backward.
What I’ve disliked in my brief playtime with the iPad is that it seems to promote consumption of texts, but not creation. I can’t annotate, therefore I can’t engage the texts the way I wanted to. Since only one app can be viewed at a time, and the notepad and reader apps are separate, the iPad separates the reading experience from writing and vice-versa. There’s no camera for pictures. I can sort of write, but the ergonomics of it are awkward. I expected a smaller laptop, but got a larger iPhone. I’m sure with time someone will create apps for anything I need, but for now, it seems designed to encourage passivity.
Selfe, C. L. (1996). “Theorizing e-mail for the practice, instruction, and study of literacy.” In Sullivan, P. and Dautermann, J. (Eds.). Electronic literacies in the workplace (pp. 274-292). Urbana, IL and Houghton, MI: National Council of Teachers of English and Computers and Composition Press.