The laggards among us are always tempted to characterize the arrival of new technology as just the latest “toy.”
The iPad offers the latest opportunity. Wrong. Such innovations represent permutations of mankind’s greatest revolution for the common good — the democratization of communication.
The desktop personal computer and the Web revolutionized how — and how fast — we access information. The laptop took this on the road. Then there was the BlackBerry and the iPhone, rendering regular cell phones into oh-so-yesterday, low-tech antiquities.
And each change has made it easier for us to connect with one another and with the information we need to make good decisions.
One might think that newspapers — what dinosaurs are said to be to evolution what the Pony Express is to communication — might bemoan yet another new technology. This is based on a flawed view of journalism’s mission — to tell truth to power, to be democracy’s watchdog as it informs, educates and even entertains.
Savvy journalists view each new technological innovation as just another tool to tell stories better and to reach an ever-wider audience, the iPad no less than social networking. Sure, the business model is still being sorted out, but we speak to you today as truth-tellers, not newspaper sellers.
Innovations like the iPad, an e-reader also billed as the latest revolution in wireless Web browsing, just means that information — including news — has another outlet. To journalists, more eyeballs are something to celebrate.
So, bemoan if you want this latest “toy.” No doubt, games are a big part of the allure. But the comics and advice columns were never what we called breaking news, yet are still legitimate parts of newspapers.
Bemoan also, if you like, how each new advance widens the digital divide between technological haves and have-nots. But affordability and accessibility always lag innovation.
Welcome, iPad. May your reign be fruitful because recent history shows it will be short — and then we will welcome your replacement.
It’s called progress.