I’m considering traveling to the UK for a month without a laptop – just (ha!) an iPad and an iPhone with data roaming off. The rationale is weight and accumulation – and fear of fanaticism.
Both my wife and I traveling with MacBooks and iPhones makes a kind of embarrassing middle-class sense. Compatibility. Shared chargers. Facetime. It does come close to twinning – those matching floral shirts some old farts wear to signify “We’re on vacation.” We don’t do that.
And we can explain our over-devicing professionally. This isn’t a holiday, not really. We’re both working on projects that require technology, V on Lakes to Lakes, and me on sabbatical stuff. While traveling, I need to do some interviews, draft a chapter of a book, monitor a wiki, post to my blog and to Twitter (Yeah, I wrote tweeting into the sabbatical. I teach with social media – gotta practice my chops), keep up with some blogs, check mail – and in October, I’m skyping in to present at a conference in Fargo. Carrying computers is what we do now. No apologies there.
But a laptop, smartphone, and tablet seems like overkill. Bravura. Fanaticism. Indecision. Weight. So, if I leave my MacBook at home, we travel lighter in a lot of ways.
Question is, can I get the work done on an iPad, using my wife’s laptop only when absolutely necessary?
I’ve been trying it for a day now. I started Friday morning. I’ve been able to get everything done that I needed to – which was not a lot, I admit. I did have to move a set of PDFs from my desktop to Dropbox so I could read and annotate them. And I’ve been struggling with getting this post to show up on my blog: something’s up with BlogPress. But other than that, it’s been good.
Some added benefits:
- All the files I’m working on are in one place. I don’t have to think about moving a PDF that I annotated on the iPad to the desktop, or muck around with emailing myself a draft of a proposal I started in Pages. Less is more.
- I’m in a position to Twitter more – ok, that’s a mixed blessing.
Some matters to work through:
- How to handle a synch with using V’s laptop during the month for system updates or crashes.
- How to get past the lack of smooth multitasking. Stop – switch app – copy – switch app – paste is driving me nuts.
- How to streamline blogging. BlogPress had a glitch in uploading to WP, the WP app is awkward to use, and blogging through Safari is back to hand coding. [update: BlogPress uploaded fine. I had set the incorrect date on the post and it was lost in June.
Most of the changes are changes in workflow rather than technical issues. Those are the issues I want to uncover.
What I’ve found so far:
- I need to move all the files I might need to Dropbox, with copies just in case on a flash drive that I can get to via V’s laptop if necessary. That might require an update to Dropbox. But now that more apps (eg iAnnotate) support Dropbox, cloud access with the iPad is becoming feasible – with the exception that
- Dropbox will save an annotated file only back to the account from which it was downloaded.
- I need to bring a Bluetooth keyboard. I’m typing this longish post on the iPad’s keyboard, which suits me just fine, but it does get wearing after a while. No penalty for a keyboard.
And just in case this post and iPadding around looks like self-indulgence: The material grounds and the physical and social situations of reading and writing – which is what I do when I’m not teaching reading and writing – are significant matters. They afford and constrain the resources readers and writers use to construct meaning. That is, finding that it’s not possible (yet) to copy and paste a passage from an iBook into a draft limits what I can do – and it means that I have to figure out how to get around the constraint either technologically or rhetorically. So do students. As literacy is an interaction between writer and the technologies of consumption and production (pencil, paper, book, iPad, keyboard, ebook) (see Kress), this post is a consideration of a situation of literacy.
If I decide to take on a month of travel and work without a laptop – a device that I’ve become pretty adept at – then the whole affair will be an experiment in digital literacy.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Afterthought: Check 18th and 19th century novels for incidents of traveling and writing: tools (portable letter desks), where writing was done. Richardson, Sterne, Defoe, Fielding, Smollett, Thackeray, Austin.
Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Grange Rd NW,Bemidji,United States