What Ernest Hemingway and the Apple iPad have in Common

ipad-betaHere’s something to think about…

Would you rather be the best in your field or the most influential?

Or let me put it this way.  Would you rather be the best programmer in the world or a programmer that changes the world?

Sometimes the best and the most influential is one in the same, but often they’re not. The difference between the two is innovation.

Let’s take Ernest Hemingway as an example.  Although determining the “best” is a subjective art, some people would argue that Hemingway wasn’t even the best writer in his circle of friends, let alone the best writer in the world during his day.

Best or not, you can’t argue with the profound influence the man had on the style of English prose.  This, more than any other reason, was why he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954—for innovation, not bestitude.  There was a way people wrote before Hemingway, and then there was the way people wrote after Hemingway.

You could say the same thing about the iPhone and its influence on mobile devicing.  There was what we used to expect out of a cell phone (calling people), and now we expect it to give us driving directions and recommend places to eat for dinner.  It innovated the entire concept of the smart phone.

Innovation, more than just doing an existing thing better, is what changes the world.

But what about Apple’s latest gadget, the iPad?

Even though the growing consensus appears to be general disappointment, we can’t ignore the mostly uncharted space the iPad breaks into. Sure, there are other so-called tablets, or devices like eReaders and netbooks that do similar things; but let’s face it—disappointed or not we all recognize this new branch of mobile computing that will capture our imaginations over the next few years, and potentially influence the way we interact with digital media of all types.  The iPad will spawn an entire new genre, just as the iPhone inspired the urgency of competitors to come out with the Palm Pres and the Droids we now see in the market, and just as Hemingway inspired several generations of young writers.

So what’s your take on the iPad?  Innovation or flop?  And as a web developer or a business owner, is innovation something you strive for?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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