When I and three of my colleagues showed up for a tutorial about the Apple iPad yesterday at the Apple store at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor, we all had two things in common besides being reporters. We were all carrying notepads and pens. And this was not lost on the man we were meeting, Matt Tunstall, a business specialist at Apple who agreed to introduce us to the iPad and help us figure out how we could best utilize the technology to better deliver news and media, and explain how our audience would be using the tool to interact with us.
Tunstall said he was surprised none us was using modern-day technology to take notes and instead turned to pen and paper. I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed. After all, I was among a chosen few who had been picked for Journal Register Co.’s ideaLab. I was supposed to be clued in to technology, and would be helping to move the company and the industry, for that matter, forward as an innovative thinker and consumer of technology and information while experimenting with an iPad, iPhone and Netbook over the next year. I thought to myself, but didn’t say it out of shame, that I could have whipped out my BlackBerry and used it to take notes, but I miss letters or hit the wrong ones on the touch-screen and it takes me so much longer than just using a pen and paper. If I would have said that, it would have been perceived as an excuse. And it was, because, really, truth be told, I haven’t totally changed my work flow dynamic to take advantage of today’s tools.
But that’s about to change.
Tunstall is the one who stressed work flow dynamic repeatedly in our conversation that rainy afternoon in the center of the mall surrounded by people sipping expensive coffee and working on laptops. He said we can buy all of the technology available, but until we change our work flow and think outside of the box, it’s not going to help us as much as it could. It’s like shoving a square peg into a round hole, he said.
So, while the group initially asked questions about how the iPad could fit into what we’re doing now, Tunstall’s words kept coming back to me. We will have to change our work flow to incorporate the iPad, rather than trying to figure out how the iPad can fit into our current routines.
For instance, we did a test drive uploading stories and photos to our newspapers’ website. While we could import text typed on the iPad by a simple cut and paste, we couldn’t upload photos as the button to upload was grayed out. So, change the work flow. Instead of attaching a jpeg, go to Scribd and upload the jpeg to get an embed code for the website.
We asked whether we could download our videos off our Flips to the iPad and produce video. We discovered we could import and export, but not play them and there was no video editing software available for iPad at this time. But, again, change the work flow. Use the iPhone to shoot video, edit and clip in down, and then e-mail it to yourself, opening it on the iPad.
And, as we all marveled, Tunstall showed us how we could use our finger to write on the iPad and an application to convert it to text. Can you imagine the time saved?
My iPad is expected to arrive in the next week and we meet again with Tunstall Wednesday. Maybe, by then, I’ll be taking notes on my iPad, leaving the pen and paper at the office and moving into the Technological Age.