Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Get off My Blog. Or: Finally, I Understand the iPad

Suddenly, I understand the iPad. And while it's still not magical, I can see where it might fill that all-important niche.

So there’s some hand-wringing (or at least academic studying) over the fact that bloggers, in general, are getting older. Or that fewer teens are blogging. Or that younger people want to be socially connected, but not necessarily bound to a desktop computer to interact over the ethers with their peers. Or that one of these days we’re all going to throw away our damned devices and just go meet our friends face to face again and get all aghast because they got SO OLD since we last saw them in, what, 1998?

At any rate, the study, by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, is here.

The study is rather interesting, though I’ve only read a part of it, and parsed a bit of what they’re saying about it in the media.

Interesting fact: Few teens are using Twitter. Which I can understand – it’s basically texting with a glossy web design slapped around it.

Another interesting fact: Sites that want to stay relevant with teens are designing their sites to be easily accessed on mobile devices. They’re focusing on limited text but a lot more on photos, videos (but not Flash videos, since Apple doesn’t like Flash) and other such eye-candy.

Another interesting fact: Teens admit to reading blogs less and commenting on blogs less, leaving that demographic to we older folks who are too busy spitting our dentures out to readjust them than we are to get all mobile.

An interesting inference: This doesn’t bode well for Uncharted, because teens as well as folks over 30 are increasingly more mobile, more socially connected. We don’t have that ability yet. We’re falling behind the curve. We’re pretty much a blog-leaning social media website that’s light on the social part of the media. We don’t yet have that critical mass audience, and, if these numbers are anything to worry about, we won’t get them given our current strategy. We’re trying to figure out how to make money so we can afford to build a mobile site. At least we recognize where we need to be, if we don’t yet have the resources to be there.

And yet I have to wonder – does mobility mean everything? I have an iPod Touch that I love dearly, but there are many things I like to do on the computer, and on the Internet, that are much better suited to a larger screen. Maybe this is the niche for the iPad and similar technology that’s sure to follow: A bigger platform to get us mobile but also not so squinty.

We look back on ENIAC as quaint because it took up an entire room. Maybe teens now look at our desktops and think, wow, that thing takes up an entire desktop. With a keyboard. How quaint.

So what does that mean to folks like us? Not only do we go mobile – or at least add the capacity to go mobile without falling into the newspaper trap of thinking our mobile connections are ancillary to our “main product” – but we also have to go video. And audio. Audio and video together. We’ve got to shift gears – and this will be a tough adjustment for me – from words to images. That doesn’t mean we don’t write – we have to storyboard, and that involves a lot of planning and writing. Good thing I got that video camera for Christmas.

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