The iPad is a notebook replacement

Er…so…I bought an iPad. I tried to resist, but Steve kept telling me that I wanted one, and in the end I just gave up and bought one.

I’m still not entirely sure whether I really like the iPad, or whether Steve is telling me that I like the iPad. I feel like I might be a character in Inception, my liking for the iPad implanted in a dream by Apple’s secret operatives. But, putting that suspicion aside, the iPad seems to be genuinely useful device, which I’ve found I like a lot.

There are some things about the iPad that it is very easy to take for granted or ignore all together. It’s light, no heavier than a hard back book but much slenderer. It has a really bright screen that you can see clearly from any angle. It has a ten hour battery life, so you can use it all day without worrying about plug sockets. And it is incredibly intuitive to use, almost as intuitive as a plain old notebook.

Which is what the iPad really is. A notebook. A very clever notebook, which can also play videos and music. But basically, a notebook. It does not replace my phone, or my laptop (although on 4 days out of 5 it can replace my laptop), what it replaces is the notebook and pen I carry with me.

At any given time I have a lot of things going on in my head. This week for example, I have been:

  • Writing an annual report and business plan
  • Collating the programme for a reading festival
  • Drafting and posting various blog posts
  • Redrafting a short story
  • Reading the new Ted Chiang novella, and making notes for a review
  • Having meetings with partners for a (top secret) new project
  • Commenting and responding to various discussions online, and managing various websites and social networks
  • Anything that my notebook would contribute to these tasks, the iPad does better. It’s an excellent tool for getting all of those thoughts out of my head, organized and drafted as documents. It stores all the reading material I need for these tasks, and is great for reading them on. It’s also great for other people to read them on, which makes the iPad invaluable in meetings. And the iPad is great for managing social media of all kinds.

    The iPad is a digital notebook, and makes sense when you think of it as the first stage to getting creative thoughts out of your head and in to the world. It’s a very personal computer, that you can always have with you, is always on, and can collect, organise and develop lots of information in a huge number if different ways. It’s also what makes the iPad exciting going forward, because it’s only the start of what technology can do in this role. I’m excited to see what comes next.


    Published by Damien Walter

    Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

    One thought on “The iPad is a notebook replacement

    1. I can’t say I’m bothered much about the iPad, although it does look and feel nice, but the new Ted Chiang novella? I’m certainly excited about that!



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