Photo: Electricpig: bit.ly
These days pretty much everything is tagged with the word social. We have social media, social gaming and so forth.Pretty much the only thing that is not called social is computing.
In fact computers, and smart phones, while they are Internet connected to everyone in the world, are inherently unsocial.
Laptops and desktops sit in cubes with workers plugged in as a perverse silence fills the formerly chattering office.
Smartphones are also personal.
They are just more discrete but like computers, they are physical entities that almost always exist in a one to one ratio with their users.
What is unique about the iPad and the slew of tablet style computing that is about to be upon us is that it affords the first opportunity for social computing. And by the term social computing I don’t mean connected, I mean physical. I mean two or more people connected to one device. In other words, hardware that brings people together in a face to face way.
As a start, let me point to three examples of social computing facilitated right now by the iPad.
1) Games. More and more games for for the iPad take into account the form factor and are designed for 2 – 4 players to engage. The iPad as a gaming device is the new board game. I have watched kids and grown ups alike gathered around playing marble madness, multi-pong and backgammon face to face over the device.
2) Photos. Just returned from a fabulous vacation? Sure you put albums up on Facebook or Flickr. But what friend of yours really goes through more than 100 pictures there especially with little commentary. Now bring an iPad to a party, or to work,or home for a holiday and you have a shared slide show with real narration and multiple viewers on a single device. It returns the idea of stories around each picture.
3) Presentations. I rarely use video in an internal or external meeting. It either requires everyone hunching around a laptop or me requesting a projector and spending the first 10 minutes hoping I have the right connection to the projector and feeling like I’m an AV club member. With a tablet device loaded with video and images, I simply slide it across the table or prop it up and images and videos instantly enhance my pitch or conversation.
Aside from a few games built especially for multiplayer for the iPad, there has been little unique applications or content developed for the pending era of social computing. For entrepreneurs, this new form factor that encourages physical connections and live multiple users on a single device, is ripe with opportunity.
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