It goes without saying that I spend an inordinate (and sometimes ungodly) amount of time online, reading and consuming content. Whether it be in the form of news reports, opinions or simple musings on blogs, I love the written word. From Apartment Therapy to the UI musings of some of my dear friends, I view reading online as a way of constantly stuffing my brain with great ideas.
In recent years, my media consumption has gone up drastically, thanks to the iPhone. Now, whenever I get a chance, I fire up my Newsgator app and start checking out some of my favorite blogs and news sites. However, one thing the iPhone has not been able to do is become a convenient way to create content.
Sure, I have posted full-length blog posts from my BlackBerry; I even covered the launch of the iPad (ironically) with the new BlackBerry Bold from T-Mobile. But I wouldn’t recommend it, and given the state of my tendinitis, I don’t really want to :-)
When I have to write, I need to carve out some time, remove all means of mass distraction — Twitter, Facebook, email and Skype — think and then write. I usually refer to the notes I scribble down in my Moleskine notebook, which I carry around with me everywhere. I have a battered old Montblanc and for me that represents the most organic form of creativity.
However, between the time I jot down notes and thoughts and the time I actually end up turning them into articles and blog post, something gets lost. A thought misplaced, a cue lost or simply passion about something — I never quite get around to capturing the moment.
This morning, I woke up with a deluge of press releases about the iPad — many of them simply fantastic applications, such as the Netflix app — but there was one email which caught my eye. It was from my friend Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic and creator of WordPress, the blogging tool we use to publish GigaOM. (See disclosure at the bottom.) I have been haranguing him for the past few months about doing more on mobile devices. As if to shut me up, the WordPress team today announced its iPad app.
The screenshots made me wonder if somehow the iPad would help me overcome the shortcomings of the iPhone. In one of my earlier posts about the device Steve Jobs calls “magical,” I had pointed out that the iPad would enable anywhere computing. It would change the very idea of working on a computer altogether. Just like cell phones have made the idea of making calls from a fixed location almost seem ridiculous, iPad could do precisely the same for computing.
The increase in the number of persistent distractions now force me to use pen and paper to actually craft some of my longer posts — a pleasurable activity mostly because it forces me to be economical in thought and secondly, when I finally put the piece into WordPress, I end up doing some (Carolyn, our managing editor, would say much-needed) self-editing, which almost always makes the post better than originally drafted.
In many ways, the iPad’s lack of multitasking ability makes it worthy of focusing on just the task at hand. In my brief usage of the device at the time of its unveiling, I felt a near-complete interaction with an email or a document or a web page. That was near nirvana when it came to consumption of content.
The new WordPress app now makes me wonder whether blogging on the iPad could make it yet another powerful (yet simple) tool for content creation. Sure, there are some shortcomings — I’m not quite sure how to upload photos or videos to our blog, or how I actually get them onto the iPad without a computer without jumping through a few hoops. It’s still not clear how effective one can be when typing for long lengths of time on a touchscreen. One thing I do know: I won’t have an excuse to not blog about something just because I didn’t have a laptop handy.
I guess I will find out in a few days — and so will you.
Disclosure: Automattic, maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.