Why the iPad Will Change Blogging for Me

42 Comments

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.

42 Comments

Tehseen

Om,
How would you compare the comfort level of typing on an iPad vs typing on a regular laptop? I am talking about strain on eyes, flexibility of fingers and other such things.

GadgetGuide4U

well its a good to have ipad big screen will enhance the blogging industry and with the increase in the number of apps i thought that i should go for it.
just waiting for sometime..

Tom Foremski

Why try to fit a round peg into a square hole? My Macbook Air provides excellent anywhere-blogging capabilities. It seems you have a problem with distractions which you hope the limited potential of the iPad will solve for you. That’s a seperate issue, imho…

Brad

Om, why not use a speech recognition app for iPhone to transcribe your blog posts? I think Naturally Speaking (or something like that has a pretty good app). I don’t personally use it (my wife has an iPhone I have a bold), but it looks like it does a pretty good job, and i think you can tell it to cut and paste what it transcribes… seems like it would save you from always having to physically write something down (like the rest of us suckers do)

Om Malik

I hate using the speech recognition software — with my accent they almost always do such a bad job that i spend more time correcting stuff than actually creating it. Also, with English being my second language, it is easier for me to think and write than think and speak. I think it is part of the creative process.

enrolled agent certification

It’s still a vanity gadget for me. Or a great gift for my Mom… Personally and practically, I don’t really have a lot of use for it since most of its features I already have in my laptop. Unless I have that extra 400 bucks, not in my book.

Anhoni Patel

Wow. “I felt a near complete interaction with an email or a document or a web page.”

Personally, I am quite excited about how it will revolutionize (and revitalize) the publishing industry. I really want to see how it affects ebooks. Will it bring ebooks to the masses? I hope so.

And…I’m also excited since my novel, “All Good Things Die in L.A.”, is going to be in its iBookstore (couldn’t they come up with a better name than that?).

Alexander Munday

I think you can get a simple adapter that lets you read SD cards for importing your multimedia file(s). Also a camera adapter is available too.

Make no mistake about it this little iPad is a very very disruptive technology. It has already propelled Apple into the third largest corporation in America (based on market cap) and after iPhone 4.0 they may overtake Microsoft. Steve is the God of mobile technology.

GAME CHANGED.

Harsh

I’m yet to decide should I buy iPad or not..though the way iPad apps is increasing
I believe I’m going to buy it..
Wordpress iPad app look great….

Salaryman Ryan

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It indeed going to be exciting to see what the iPad can do this next few years. I have this feeling that this device might gradually evolve to one of the best writer’s tool out there. So much potential.

Peter Cranstone

Om,

Reading through all the comments I think it’s important that you should buy an iPad. It’s going to become part of the “fabric” of our lives. Your feedback will be invaluable. For as many pro’s out there, there are just as many cons.

It doesn’t introduce a new order of things yet, simply because it hasn’t replaced anything, merely added.

The real innovation will come later. The issue for many will be who gets a shot at creating that innovation. I still don’t believe many $50m companies will be built on the back of the iPad. It’s too closed for that to happen.

The first “spell” has been cast. It’s incomplete and most of us can see the promise of something. We’ll just have to be patient for the follow up “spells” to see some real magic.

rashesh jethi

Along with your creative and analytical abilities, you have an open mind Om. It is one of the reasons so many of us click over regularly to see what you have to say on myriad topics – whether we agree with you or not.
Without having seen or held one, I do know that the iPad will definitely change the way the internet is accessed and content is consumed. It takes me several minutes to boot up and get my (not very old) home PC going: the ability to access the net almost instantaneously means I will be online a lot more often. The iPad may or may not turn out to be the best device to create content, but most of us are mainly on the consumption side when not “at work” – Apple has wisely leveraged the Pareto principle in that context. Looking forward to your musings over the next several days !

Doug Aghassi

The WordPress App. is sorely lacking, still. Not even close to the UX and GUI of the wp-admin through any browser window.

Also, you will have your distracting multi-tasking back with iPhone OS 4.0

The only reason the curren WP app is better than the one for the iPhone is that you can type with more fingers than just your thumbs.

T-bone

Do you recall the first successful laptop? The Radio Shack T100 if I remember correctly. No screen – just a writer’s dream. It changed the way journalists worked. Then came the Toshiba T1000 and 1200. I ran a successful business off the 1000.

The Ipad portends to do the same. I feel the immediacy of the machine with relatively no boot time will help the spontanaity. Now I ask myself “do I want to boot up my MacBook? I can see having this with me as I now carry a moleskine. I would like a cocktail napkin app along with a pen interface. A tether to my iPhone and a video conf app using the iPhone camera. Add in a Bluetooth or wifi connct to my camera and i have a new productivity solution.

I wouldnlike multitasking so if an idea came about while reading I could go straight to my journal etc

It’s incremental at least and game changing with luck.

T-bone in Paradise

Mark

Apple expects you to upload your photos from your iPhone to the cloud (MobileMe, Flickr, whatever), then access it there from your iPad. It really is made with cloud computing in mind.

Om Malik

Unfortunately it is going to be hard to do really good photos with that less than average camera on iPhone. I prefer using my Blackberry device for photos.

barkleyfan

Any Photobucket, Flicker, apps for bb? They have size restrictions, but they are a quick fix for now. Android Photobucket app can auto-sync, (I would assume a bb app could too) so you’re set by the time you fire up your iPad. Not a direct solution, but a useable workaround to keep the blog runnning.

barkleyfan

I have a difficult time visualizing this as a productivity tool. Designed properly, a Swype interface could refine this a bit I suppose. Also free up some screen real estate. But the limitations inherent with both device and os leave me skeptical that any power user will remain enamored for any length of time. I just don’t see this device having near the mobile impact it’s baby brother did. Good luck to those of you who chose to ride this train.

I enjoy reading your perspectives Om, you are both informed and entertaining. I keep waiting to see what you see here, but I continue to come up short concerning Apple product experience.

heath

When I write poetry, the work I do with pencil and paper is significantly deeper and more textured than that which I compose on a PC. The engagement of different areas of the brain, via long, slow (though subtle) motions of shoulder and arm while writing, is the underlying mechanism for the difference. Too bad for me, I don’t have the time to write by hand most of the time, and my poetry shows it.

When writing blogs and tech-related pieces, though, since they tend to be abstract at least in part, it’s perhaps even more important to keep the human texture and depth, to connect with a wide audience on more levels. There’s real value in more, not less, human flavor when it comes to this kind of writing. So if I stood in your shoes, I’d try to shift a lot of my draft writing to my notebook, and use digital media to polish only.

Anyway, I find it interesting that your pieces are the most engaging and humanistic of all the GigaOm bloggers’ work, and I wonder if perhaps it’s due to your keeping shoulder and arm active parts of your creative process, via your Moleskin-and-Montblanc-notes.

Om Malik

Heath

I think there are many different ways of thinking about content. My own desire to think-and-write has forced me to use paper and pen: it not only makes me think less of how others are saying, but it also forces me to think harder and come up with easier and simpler analogies.

Sometimes, the forced slowdown that comes with organic creation is a perfect way to reboot the brain. I have been trying to go outside the safe confines of writing with a pure techie angle.

That said, I had not thought of writing with a pen/paper as a way of engaging with a different part of the brain. Cool.

Brian S Hall

Very nice post. I will no by tomorrow if it helps my blogging;-)

You are right about “anywhere computing.” These magical devices will enable a good deal of creation plus, today, Apple can make them for $300. Which means in a few years, they can be, say, $200 retail. Which means 500 million people could potentially afford one.

The iPad is either a game changer or portends one to come very soon.

Eideard

Looking forward to my first posts using the iPad. Unlike some of the more foolish comments here [ignorant by choice?] I’m confident I’ll be able to find an app or two that will sort out any questions about importing photos or other graphic content to my blog. No doubt, there will be assorted levels of editing capability in any of these apps.

And, of course, the crew at WP will have a product for their bloggers that is grounded in the same sort of usability that I’ve learned is characteristic of successful 3rd-party apps designed for the Apple world.

I haven’t been this side of Geek Street very long. Just wish I made the change sooner.

Peter

Only an Apple apologist would praise the lack of multitasking as a good feature.

Om Malik

Dave I do have one of those and well the keyboard is too cramped for me. I feel that it is beter to just use the 13 inch machine I have :-) Hope you are enjoying NYC. I am so jealous.

tolleson

I simply do not understand why anyone thinks an iPad is going to make them more productive than a netbook. I am just not persuaded. What we seem to be hearing to rationalizations from fanboys, plain and simple.

Peter Cranstone

Om, I totally respect your point of view on the iPad – but I have to wonder. Everything your describing above can easily be done on either a netbook, laptop or desktop. The only delta presumably is the portability of the iPad – but you already have that with a laptop/netbook.

What I’m looking for is for someone to describe something that iPad does that I cannot do elsewhere. So far no one has written about this.

Om Malik

Peter,

First of all thanks for your kind remark and even reading my points of view. I will try and answer your questions/

What iPad can do? Well it can do whatever that we do today, a lot better. What more can it do — I will know in time.

I cannot answer you as of now since I have not used the iPad for a considerable amount of time. I might have a coherent opinion sometime next week when I would have spent at least a week on the device. After that I could be wrong — or right and we shall see.

Peter Cranstone

Thanks – hopefully we can put some quantifiable measure on what it does better. I don’t mean to belabor the point – I’m just curious. I switched to a Mac after 20 years on a PC. I love the design, I love the integration – but when I want to get real work done I fire up Parallels and run Windows 7 with all my “tools”.

My personal opinion is that the first rev of the iPad is going to have minimal impact. Essentially it will “pay for it’s development”.

Where I think all of this is really heading is NC or wherever Apple is building out their Cloud infrastructure. There’s a reason that the iPad has no connectors and it has nothing to do with what the techies want. I think it has everything to do with moving to a Cloud Computing environment which leverages the “folder-less” metaphor that is the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad.

Rev 2.0 is where we will finally be able to answer the question – what does the iPad do that no one else can do.

Until then – we wait.

Om Malik

Peter

I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you and your assessment of the situation is pretty much how I think about iPad right now. It seems I am just more bullish than most because of my 20-minute experience.

rowjee

Ipad is gonna be home to far more creative apps which never could make it big on the iphone due to the size limitation, No one is able to predict how big a revolution ipad is going to bring along, but I intuitively feel it is beginning of the cloud revolution for the masses, like the pc in the mainframe age

Joe MWD

All I can say, good luck adding pictures with iPad :) unless they are already in your iPad.

Om Malik

Hey I agree with you on that :-) It is going to be an issue for me, especially since I spend a lot of time on the visual elements of the site.

DVR

Like a lot of people, Om usually has an iPhone, Blackberry, etc. in hand. Plus with WiFi or 3G he’s always attached to the cloud: MobileMe, Dropbox, Flickr, what-have-you.

Take a new picture with your iPhone -> fav cloud storage. The rest should be trivial for some coder with an API key to allow Om to get the photo from the cloud into his new post.

Cheers!

DVR

One more thing®

I just tested a work flow with the iPhone version of ReaddleDocs that may help you:

  1. ReaddleDocs grabs your image from the cloud source (I tried MobileMe) and saves it to the built-in photo gallery.

  2. Your writing app should be able to insert photos from the build-in photo gallery into your content.

I’m guessing ReaddleDocs for the iPad will be able to do this too.

Cheers!
DVR
KeyStakeholdersBlog.com

Stuff About Life

Or he could take the photo and email it to himself and check email on the iPad. There’s the photo! ;-)

He can also upload it to Flick and view it with Safari and save it to the library the same way one does on an iPhone.

wbeem

I have the same concern. I don’t really care that the iPad can’t take photos. I’m concerned about the ability to get a photo from a web source (e.g. one from my Flickr or other web galleries, or one downloaded from iStockPhoto or Fotolia), size it properly, and include it in a post.

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