Memes & Memos
Being a graduate student in the college of communications allows for wonderful access to the tools of the trade, including video recorders, professional-quality digital cameras, and iPads.

While test driving a few dozen iPads, our class discussed needs versus wants. Did any of us need an iPad in our lives? Why, or why not? We pondered:
  • How does the iPad fit into our daily activities?
  • How can an iPad enhance a reader's experience of books, magazines, newspapers?
  • Where does an iPad provide useful applications in a business setting? Education setting?
  • How can marketers use this technology to their advantage?
  • What can an iPad do that a laptop computer can't? What can a laptop do that the iPad does not (yet)? Does an iPad complement a computer or do they cancel each other out?
  • What does the iPad not do that we wish it did to be more useful?
  • Finally, did we really need it? Or is it just for cats?
One thing we found out quickly is that the functionality of the iPad is directly related to costs. Keyboard, camera connection and other adapters sold separately. Many of the applications also have a pricetag.

As the owner of a MacBook, PC laptop, two iPhones, a digital camera, a half dozen iPods of varying capabilities, a Wii and two DVRs, I'm not sure I'm ready to let the iPad into my life just yet until I know for sure that the technology offers something I need vs. want. I recently found two sad, forgotten, irrelevant Palm Pilots and their nifty stylis pens in a corner of the closet. I'm not sure an iPad wouldn't meet their same fate.
Every year for the past 11 years, Beloit College in Wisconsin has issued a list of cultural truths that the current class of students entering college today know to be true. The Beloit College Mindset List serves as "a reminder of the rapidly changing frame of reference for this new generation."

Here are some of the technology-related highlights for students of the class of 2012 (approximating those born in 1990) that I find astounding. For these students:
  • GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
  • Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
  • IBM has never made typewriters.
  • They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
  • Employers have always been able to do credit checks on employees.
  • Caller ID has always been available on phones.
  • Windows 3.0 operating system made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
Caller ID has always been available. Growing up, we had phones with cords that were attached to  walls. You had to answer the phone to find out who was calling... And if someone was already on the phone when you tried to call them, you got a busy signal. Some people used pagers. In fact, I didn't have a cell phone until I went to college. Most people had PCs, not MacBooks.

Clearly, things are much different today. College students are equipped with a whole new set of technologies that are commonplace: smart phones, iPads and e-book readers among them. Does this mean their lives are easier because of the technologies available to them? Not necessarily. However,
it's important to keep in mind how the tools are changing from year to year.

The Beloit College Mindset Lists can be found here for the graduating classes of 2002 through 2014.