Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Consumers and Producers

So Tobold ordered a Kindle. His remarks about about tablets vs. PCs struck a chord for me:
Most people on the internet are mainly consumers of content. They contribute very little beyond the occasional link or comment, but they read and listen and watch a lot. I attribute it to the genius of the late Steve Jobs that he realized that existing personal computer were built by content creators for content creators, enabling him to start a revolution of devices built for content consumption instead, which was closer to what the public wanted. This included the iPad, which instead of earlier, failed, attempts at making tablet computers did away with content creation features like handwriting recognition, concentrated on features to consume content.

Unfortunately I am more of a content creator than a content consumer. I don't listen to music much, nor do I spend a lot of time watching videos on the internet. Instead I spend a lot of time writing, mostly in the form of this blog. As a result I don't own a tablet computer (nor a smart phone), as these devices simply aren't all that suitable for content creation. You *can* send an e-mail from an iPhone, or write a blog entry on an iPad, but given the choice you'd rather do it on a regular PC.
While not as prolific as Tobold, I also consider myself a content creator. I use my PC for two things, generally; Blogging (Tweeting, etc.); and Gaming. Tobold helped me put a finger on why I don't see a need for a tablet for me. The basic interface of a tablet computer does not lend itself to the types of games I play, much less the stuff "under the hood." Right this minute, I am producing content. Much of it is crap, and I suspect very few consume it. Thank you, Dear Reader, for consuming it; though my guess is you probably produce some of your own.

I want to interact with the web, not just consume it. A few years ago a work-mate was teasing me and another colleague over our gaming. How much time we wasted. My response to this guy--a Red Sox fan-- was, "How much time do you spend watching baseball or football on TV? The only difference between that and my gaming is that I have an effect on the outcome of the game I am watching." He was a consumer of product, I at least interact with product in a constructive way.

Another thing is that the social (i.e. chat) aspects of the game are hampered by the interface. Unless you are using a VOIP system like Ventrilo, you have to find a way to interact with your fellow players. You could add a keyboard and mouse, but then you are looking at something resembling my laptop anyway. I am not being critical of tablets or people use them. But I don't think I need one at this point in my life.

I know people have tethered their tablets to their PCs and finagled their way through a remote desktop to play MMOs, but really? It's a proof of concept, not a way I want to play the game. Maybe someday soon, MMORPGs will be designed around a touchscreen interface. But until they do, I'll stick with my laptop.


  1. I consumed this post, and it was yummy. I suspect that the masses just want to consume, but some percentage of us will always have a drive to do both.

  2. You people who have never used a tablet are adorable in coming up with important sounding excuses. Seriously. I use my tablet to produce content constantly. There is nothing inherently more "consume-centric" about a tablet than a computer. Except maybe the convenience of sitting down with it in a comfy chair.

    If you don't want a tablet, don't get one. if you have a good relationship with your laptop and use that as a mobile computer that works well with your life then keep using that. But your remarks on the inherent nature of a tablet's interface just make it obvious you've never used one for any length of time.

  3. @hzero Well said. And thank you for coming regularly to consume and comment.

    @Captain Cursor It is an honor, sir. I have consumed with delight the content you and your colleagues at Trion have produced in Rift. (How much of that was done with tablets, by the way?)

    I know a lot of people produce content using touchscreens. Scarybooster, for one, writes all his blog posts on his iPhone. I think in his case, it is partly a personal challenge, and partly necessity. You're right, I don't own a tablet, but I know that most of the features advertised by the manufacturers thereof, like Apple, have to do with consuming content: watching movies, surfing the net, playing games, reading e-books.

    I never said it wouldn't be nice to have a tablet. I said I didn't see a need for one. It comes down to this: Have you gotten rid of your laptop or desktop because the tablet fulfills all your computing needs?

    (swyped on my Android smartphone)

  4. You sound just like my husband before I bought him a tablet, an iPad to be specific. Every time he has a conversation with someone about it, he starts off with "I was never an Apple person and I'm still not, but..." and then proceeds to gush about his iPad.

    Forget consumer vs. producer, I think it's overcomplicating things. My husband loves his tablet, and uses it every day, and it has nothing to do with consuming or producing. Instead, and Captain Cursor alluded to it already, it's the convenience. That's where most of the appeal is, in my opinion. He still uses his PC for I guess what you would call "heavy producing", but the tablet has pretty much replaced his laptop. As far as mobility, it just can't be beat. He loves his tablet because he can take it everywhere with him and have information at his fingertips without the bulk or hassle.

  5. I am in the "I don't need a tablet camp as well." Of course I thought I didn't need a cell phone until I had owned one for a week, so I may be mistaken :-)

  6. @GeeCee As I said, I'm sure I'd find uses for it. I just don't *need* it.

    @Yeebo See, I immediately saw the use for cell phones. Even now, the cellphone may be the thing brings many third world societies out of the third world.