(Image from ZDNet)

I came across this article on ZDNet recently on how to turn the iPad 2 into a serious writing machine.

To turn a designed for content consumption iPad into a “serious” writing tool is a great example of kludging and making things more complicated than they are.

Such a kludged setup may be perfectly fine as a serious note taking tool. I have been known to write multiple A4 pages on a Nokia C6 keyboard phone of rough notes. But not serious writing work.

A laptop these days is really not significantly heavier or less wieldy than a tablet with a detachable keyboard dock. The laptop will be more robust and probably comes with a better keyboard and a higher resolution screen.

A higher resolution screen allows the writer to have multiple windows open concurrently – for referencing material, or even to have a scratch pad next to the active document. I find this indispensable to my writing process as I am seldom only just dumping text continuously into one document.

I cannot even imagine trying to consolidate material from different sources on an iPad. How many times would I have to open and close apps, and to scroll to my last position, to copy and paste bits of text?

This is about appropriateness. To be effective, we need to use the right tools for the job. I can move house with a push bike, and cook a three-course meal with just a fork and a saucepan. But why would I?

Making things unnecessarily complicated for the sake of novelty or boast value is fine. It can even be quite fun. Like me setting up a MacOS Classic emulator on my laptop. I just wouldn’t pretend this is for “serious” work.

The real risk with making things unnecessarily complicated is not so much in hobby situation, but rather when leaders and decision makers use this as an excuse for not using the right tools to do things effectively. For example, if all the writers for a newspaper were suddenly forced to use the iPad as a “serious” writing tool by a tablet-enamoured editor, they would likely go on strike.

That fun-to-use tablet at home may not be totally appropriate for work – for a variety of technical, service availability and infosec reasons that may not be immediate obvious. There are many horror stories online about enthusiastic bosses foisting inappropriate technologies on their businesses, to its detriment.

Serious writing tool? This is my serious writing tool: