The new Apple iPad is making me think deeply about how news and entertainment are consumed. That's a bit of a leap for me, because my professional life has involved using computers to create all types of content, from news to still photos to audio and video and interactive content.
Creating versus consuming. The iPad is a device for consuming all types of media. Not by accident, it also provides a pretty easy way to spend money, to buy things, to help satisfy the myriad appetites of all types of consumers.
There's that word again. Consume.
So I've been getting in touch with my consuming side since I picked up the iPad at its debut on Saturday (although I am using the iPad to write this blog and am very pleased with how my typing speed and accuracy are improving).
Time magazine, USA Today (which is only free until July), New York Times Editor's Choice, BBC News, ABC (on-demand choices for just about any fairly recent ABC TV show), NPR, Pandora, YouTube, iTunes, various publication Web sites, books. All of these display beautifully and quickly on the iPad. My favorite for design, graphics, lots of photos and some video is Time magazine. It's just gorgeous. And I can't wait for Wired magazine (see
First-day sales of the iPad were around 300,000, application downloads topped a million and about 250,000 e-books were sold, according to Apple. Worldwide iPad sales estimates for the year range from 2.5 million to 7.1 million, according to the Wall Street Journal (see article here).
Seton Hill University will give every full-time student an iPad starting in the fall (http://www.setonhill.edu/iPad). Locally, Alexandar Dawson School, a private K-12 prep school in Lafayette, will provide iPads for all fifth and sixth graders and is building a curriculum to complement the device (http://www.dawsonschool.org).
The iPad looks very much like the tablet computer envisioned by Roger Fidler in the early 1990s. Fidler operated the Information Design Lab from 1992-1995 in Boulder. He prototyped an electronic tablet newspaper and peered into the future of electronic publications. (For a story about the iPad, the lab and to see the lab's original video about the tablet, click here. For a look at what Fidler currently is doing and his review of the iPad, click here.
Ironically, Knight Ridder, the newspaper chain that funded his research lab and at that time owned some 30 newspapers (including the local Daily Camera where I was working at the time), is no longer in business. Newspapers -- and journalism -- are endangered financially in the current electronic era.
Can the iPad make a difference?
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado is hosting a lab that is investigating the future of news in the digital age. It's called the Digital Media Test Kitchen. The effort is being led by Steve Outing, who is well-known in the online media community through his Editor & Publisher Online column called "Stop the Presses.”
The mission of the lab is to take "a cross-disciplinary approach to addressing the market failure in public-interest journalism by testing, advancing and developing new technologies, techniques and business models to reinvigorate and reinvent the news industry as it navigates through a turbulent transition period."
The Test Kitchen invites participation in a number of areas, including research, testing and adaptation of digital/news media, student projects and financial support.
More information about the Digital Media Test Kitchen is at http://test kitchen.colorado.edu.
Bruce Henderson is director of communications at the ATLAS Institute. He worked as a newspaper reporter, photographer and editor for 20 years before becoming an associate professor of journalism at CU, where he taught journalism and new media publishing for a decade.