I have never been much of a ‘gadget guy’ – one of those people, usually male, that have to have the latest and greatest flat screen TV, computer, camera, music player or other electronic device. But just because I don’t routinely go out and buy the latest gadgets doesn’t mean I am immune to them or don’t take advantage of the benefits they provide.
Last month, on Father’s Day, my wife and sons presented me with a new iPad 2. Being the non-gadget guy that I am, this was not something I necessarily wanted – or thought I would get. Of course, I thought the iPad was a cool thing, something I wanted to get maybe someday, but was never sure what I would do with one if I had one (and, indeed, the iPad may be the first device brought to market with no specific purpose in mind). All that went out the window as soon as I turned it on.
Like many people, I had already gotten used to reading the news and sending email on my phone. But the iPad makes doing both so much nicer because the screen is so much larger. It also takes awesome pictures.
But the biggest change I have made in the few weeks I’ve had my iPad is in reading books. The thought of e-books had never appealed to me. I liked physical books, holding one, turning the pages and how paper books often retained that book store smell. Still, I bought an e-book through Apple’s iBooks app – a Christopher Hitchens title I had been wanting to read but never made it to the book store to buy – and downloaded it to my iPad (a process that was so easy I thought I heard my iPad whisper, “Resistance is futile”).
I can now say that reading an e-book is indeed different that reading a physical book. The iPad bookmarks where I stop reading so when I go back the app automatically opens to that page. I can tap a word on the screen to highlight it and then look it up on a pop-up dictionary menu. I can also adjust the brightness. Last night I downloaded three more books. I’m hooked.
But in addition to being a really cool gadget, if you will, the iPad and similar tablet devices are an example of the changing way that people consume, share and interact with information. And while we can argue about whether resisting these trends really is futile, the fact is that technology will continue to make information sharing easier, more efficient and more immediate.
As someone who works in a profession the purpose and goal of which is to share information efficiently and effectively, these technological shifts have also meant shifts in the way our agency works for our clients. Of course we still produce top-notch news releases, but now distribute them via email, Facebook, Twitter and also research key words to enhance their listing placement on social bookmarking websites. In short, we provide information through the channels that people now use to consume it.
As a PR agency, we have a new and exciting arsenal of tools to tell our clients’ stories, and companies that embrace those tools will likewise reap their benefits – increased awareness, a more positive reputation and ultimately, more business and profit.
I’ll admit I am still not much of a gadget guy – though I will also admit to being totally enamored with my newest gadget. But I am open-minded enough to see that technology can improve the way we do things and am willing to embrace those benefits. Are you?