Select Page

The iPad screen is not your desktop screen | via Craig Mod

Great bit by Craig Mod on reading, the iPad, and why reading on the iPad, or any other dedicated reading device, is distinctly different than reading the same book on your computer screen.

The fourth point becomes less relevant as screen technology advances, but the first three aren’t going to change. And the last point is perhaps most insidiously disruptive to stress-free long-form reading: modern desktop OSes are optimized for multi-tasking and short bursts of concentration. Not sitting around the hearth enjoying, you know, Joyce.

I’ve now read several books and dozens of long-form journalism pieces on my iPod Touch and iPhone. Anyone who has done the same knows it’s incomparable to the desktop reading experience. The screen is close to you, position is manipulated by touch, orientation is intimate and the pixel density is much higher than that of our desktop displays. These factors combine to make reading a joy — even on a backlit screen! (I actually do most of my iPhone reading with white text on a dark background.)

(emphasis mine)

There has been much talk about how “horrible” it is that the iPad has no multi-tasking and that you can’t involve yourself in several applications at the same time. Besides being patently false—the “non-multitasking” iPhone allows you to listen to music, receive email and push notifications, and pay attention to a host of other smaller tasks all while only allowing you to perform work within the application that’s currently running—I think the “it’d be great, but it doesn’t have multitasking” argument is a joke, and it obscures a certain truth that I think has been lost on us because we have become so used to a multitude of tasks vying for our attention all at the same time.

That fact?

Focus is good.

Concentrating one some singular activity without other tasks competing for your attention is a great thing.

The iPad is going to allow a singular form of focus that just isn’t possible using a desktop OS.

Take a look at the word processing applications that have appeared over the last few years that are designed to help you filter out the digital world and its horde of competing distractions. WriteRoom, Pages, CopyWrite, Word, and Scrivener all have features that allow you do block out everything but the task at hand. Programs like Think and Concentrate are meant to block out every other application—and with Concentrate, the entire Internet—and help keep you focused on your current activity.

All acknowledge what the iPad enforces by design.