David Weinberger points out in Will tablets always make us non-social consumers? that tablets imply a less-interactive “lean-back” relationship with the Internet and thus the world. It’s possible we can fix this by just uncrippling the keyboard; I can’t really have a conversation with the world if I can’t jam text in fast, interrupting bursts of high-word-flow with flurries of local edits. I sure don’t want to live in a lean-back world.



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From: Ross Reedstrom (May 21 2012, at 14:07)

This (uncripple the keyboard) seems to be true, in my experience. A Xoom w/ decent bluetooth keyboard and prop-stand cover allows for as easy text entry as a netbook, at least. Another point: the tablet (and other portables) makes other content creation modalities easier - more photo sharing, and even video. Yes, there are those who smirk at people holding up a tablet to record, but there is something nice about having WYSIWYG video, without blocking your face completely.

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From: Hugh (May 21 2012, at 17:21)

Tablets aren't great for IRC, but they're much better for face to face interaction with other people. Look how common it is for small groups to pass a tablet from person to person instead of everyone intently hammering away on their own keyboard.

It's different social interaction, not less.

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From: Kevin Marks (May 21 2012, at 22:59)

Have you tried the SwftKey X android keyboard? Very good prediction, nice split mode for thumb typing too.

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From: Bud Gibson (May 22 2012, at 06:24)

Personally, I'm not so taken aback that not every device is going to be high interaction. Are books high interaction? Are radios high interaction? I use my iPad to mainly consume content, and there are a lot of situations where that's what makes sense to do.

What I would like is if the various platforms out there interacted better. For instance, I can't post to G+ from flipboard or other consumption apps on the iPad. Maybe more importantly, I don't have an easy way to post to other G+ accounts (I have a few) unless I'm on chrome using its multiple user feature.

That's the kind of problem I need solved, more than the keyboard.

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From: Daniel Smith (May 22 2012, at 23:21)

Interesting. I don't know what text entry via external kbd is like on the Android side of the fence, but anecdata such as http://yieldthought.com/post/12239282034/swapped-my-macbook-for-an-ipad would indicate there are no issues with the tablet form factor.

Also, having a much richer set of verbs for manipulating Graphical UI elements puts it closer to having the breadth of expression of the Command Line, but without the learning curve for non *nix types. Which can only be a good thing, right?

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From: Dave Walker (May 24 2012, at 09:53)

Well, if Apple (and the nice folk at Nuance) have it right, then provided we're looking to get down text in a human language (rather than a compiled one, or a shell), then the plan is for us to do so by talking to our tablets instead of typing on them.

I've had an iPad 3 since the day they came out - it's an upgrade from an iPad 1, and one of the things I was very keen to stress-test was the dictation facility. I'm finding I'm not using this feature as much as I originally hoped, at least not yet; this is mostly down to:

* there being background noise around where I tend to be

* me being unfamiliar with the discipline of giving dictation, in terms of explicitly pronouncing punctuation (although the software doesn't seem entirely happy with English rather than American names being used for punctuation characters)

* the software (which I gather, like Siri, also has a Nuance front-end) having difficulty separating adjacent spoken words - I like to think I can make a fair fist of speaking in BBC RP (and I suspect it helps), but if I'm going to get the accuracy rate up, I'm going to need to try putting explicit glottal stops between words

* needing to pause frequently while the software processes its input

I'm sure it'll get better, with time; it's surprisingly good out-of-the-box, and with the remote processing model it will very likely get better without me having to go iPad shopping again - however I don't think it's quite there yet...

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From: Jay Carlson (May 31 2012, at 02:36)

Tablets do seem to do better in the ubicomp dream; computers which can play as subordinates in social interaction, without the partitioning of the "one user, one keyboard, one display" desktop model. I do wish there was a "guest" switch to signal "this is not a private display" to keep things like mail subject notifications from popping up. Bump-transfer from phones to tabs might be a killer app too.

On the Android side, I like Thumb Keyboard quite a bit. Mac people look at me funny, but God's Keyboard, aka the Apple Wireless, works fine with Android. With root and minor digging you can fix the keymap to put Ctrl next to A where it belongs and so forth. Sadly, keymap files can't reclaim the physical real estate taken by the Fn key.

I finally found a hard-top cover: the Incase Origami Workstation. The fold-out stand is a nice bonus. Although I'd prefer a rigid lid just for the top rather than a triangular prism case, I've found the space under the keyboard convenient to stow USB/dock cables.

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