I’m using it because I have to, not because I want to

I’m writing this column on my new Apple iPad.

Only, the first time I wrote that sentence, it looked like this instead:

IM etitingjthis column on j Apihp,rSnrei Ad.

You see, the iPad has a virtual keyboard — it’s a bunch of letters projected on a piece of glass. So when I type, I can’t feel the keys and don’t sense the feedback I’ve felt for most of my typewriter- and keyboard-filled life.

And because typing on the iPad feels so different — it doesn’t feel like anything at all, really — I can’t do what I normally do, which is type along with my thoughts. This new technology actually isn’t better than what I already have; at least, it isn’t better today.

So why am I telling you all of this, along with giving you an example of my notably lacking skill with the latest in technology?

I’m in a business that requires keeping up with, even keeping ahead of (if that’s possible), new technology. If I don’t, I might not have a job in a few years. Or so it seems today.

And I’m probably not alone. How many of our businesses, and how many of our jobs, are “safe” these days? Perhaps there was a time when we could punch the clock all the way to retirement, and perhaps there’s still a job or two out there that allows that mentality. But for most of us, feeling uncomfortable using the latest technology is the least of our employment challenges. Even the people at Burger King and McDonald’s have to know a little something about technology to run the cash register and fry the fries, it seems.

And changing technology doesn’t stop with our jobs. The cameras we use now can tell where we’re taking the pictures, and some of them can even send photos off wirelessly without a computer. The televisions we watch generate video so crisp and sharp that you can see the acne beneath actors’ makeup. And cars we drive are so filled with computer chips and software programs that a Lexus can actually parallel-park itself — seriously — with no help from the driver.

So here I sit with an iPad in my lap, telling myself that learning this particular new technology is worth the time and effort I’ll need to invest in it, knowing full well that in a year (or maybe even just in time for the 2010 holidays) what I’m learning today will have to be learned all over again on a newer piece of plastic, aluminum and wires that works differently but still promises the same thing. Which is always independence, intelligence, success and wealth.

Or, as that last sentence shows up on my iPad when I switch from hunt-and-peck typing to my normal multi-finger typing skills:

Which isa,wayisindd

Encencd, inxgdllivdncd,xj. DzNdcsddlHg.

Hope I figure out how to do this before it’s too late.

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