I carefully evaluate technology before embracing it. Wiser men than myself have warned that it’s better to think things over a bit before swigging a New Coke, using a fancy derivative in your investment portfolio, or buying the first Betamax on the block.
This isn’t to say I’m anti-technology. Technology is great stuff that keeps us from hunkering in caves and dying at 35. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without automatic drip coffee makers, antibiotics, telescopic rifle scopes, or word processors. But I am definitely technology suspicious. You have to identify when technology is shit served up on a platter of false hope. For example; mustard gas, the Chevy Volt, non-dairy creamer, the AMC Gremlin, Hot Pockets, and (unforgivably) “Nader alarms”.
This brings me to pad computers and especially the iPad. As a first strike against it, the iPad comes from the spawn of Satan; Steve Jobs. (He’s not dead you know… he’s a disembodied nerd/spirit running Apple from the “cloud”. Always ready to deflower any fool who can summon him with incantations and a black turtleneck. ) Like Mephistopheles’ deal with hell, Apple’s iPad seems like a fools bargain which “frees” you from the ability to control your own machine. Plus you can only keep the iNinjas at bay if you keep Apple’s presence in your home to a minimum.
In fact I’ve so far pigeonholed iPads as the most useless idea this side of an internet enabled refrigerator. (Unlike the Kindle which has battered my reluctance down and taken over half my library.) iPads seem to be a computers which are incapable of… well… computing. Nobody composes literature (even bad poetry) on one. Nobody uses one to do their taxes, tune a fuel injection system, or calculate ballistic coefficients. It’s a dumb terminal for the “cloud” that happens to play angry birds and look cool. Thus I’ve associated iPads with irrelevant teenage bimbos maintaining Facebook personas.
Today I got a different view. I was in the local grain elevator. I love grain elevators. They’re the most classic of timeless American institutions; a combination of free enterprise, important services to society that are masked in obsolescence, and total obscurity. Plus they sometimes explode.
The grinders are huge American metal devices which are twice my age and have more mass than a Buick. (I’m talking about Buicks made back when the door alone felt like battleship armor.) The floors are wood and well worn. The ramps are gravel and large enough that you can drive your tractor (or farm-semi) inside. The siding is equal parts faded sheet metal and dry rotted planks. The lighting is old incandescent bulbs (suck it Al Gore!) encased in protective glass containers that look surprisingly like Mason Jars.
It is also a haven of capitalism. Prices are listed on a blackboard. They change daily. In fact the blackboard looks suspiciously like what I’d expect a bookie would have in 1950.
Plopped in the middle of all this decrepit and aged Americana was a decrepit and aged farmer. He looked less well dressed (and less modern) than these folks:
But far more intelligent than these folks:
He was parked on an old truck seat with his feet on a coil of bailing wire. He was ignoring me. (I was the only customer he’d had in hours.) I expected lousy service. All real grain mills pride themselves on poor service to rival the most obtuse pierced wonder at Starbucks. It’s a rural hazing procedure. Plus old people don’t move fast and who the hell hurries for cattle feed anyway and the damn kids these days and the price of diesel is caused by those jerks in Washington and the new seed is shit and… Yes, moving slow and complaining is a form of art when done well.
Sadly, he was staring at the glowing phosphorescence of a *$%#@@$ iPad!
Oh no! They’d gotten to him.
Then I peeked over his shoulder and saw that he was carefully reviewing grain prices and a weather map. He had a string of numbers in a piece of paper and he was staring at the weather map as if willing it to predict the future. (For those of you who don’t know…the futures market at this level is practically gambling. Despite what you hear during testimony about Federal subsidies, farmers sometimes take huge risks in anticipation of huge gains. He was pondering what I presume was a high risk / high reward bet. Amusingly he was looking at weather stats from another state. Probably wondering if their weather had hosed them enough for him to hold out on his local harvest.)
Data heavy high-risk calculations by an overall clad, red state, elevator operator, in nowheresville? On an iPad. This was not Angry Birds!
I have backed off my earlier assumption that all things that go though an iPad are fluff. Now I see them as 99% fluff and 1% real decision-making power. Cool.