This post is cross-published at iPad4Legal.
There was no doubt in my mind that there would be many, many iPads floating around the Aria Hotel and Casino at the 2010 ILTA Conference. We saw the writing on the wall in the days and weeks before the conference when it seemed like almost every vendor offered a chance to win one of the magical devices if you stopped by their booth in the exhibit hall.
What I did not expect to see was the huge number of pre-prize iPads in the clutches of what seemed like every fourth or fifth conference-goer. I’m sure my estimates are a little off, but suffice to say that iPads were everywhere.
I can’t speak for all of the other iPad users at the conference, but here’s how I used mine during the four-day legal tech gathering.
Tweeting, of course.
Twitter has clearly hit the tipping point. We know this because there was an official ILTA-sponsored tweetup at conference. Two years ago, at the ILTA Conference in Texas, there were only four of us at the tweetup (David Hobbie, Jenn Steele, Doug Cornelius, and me) sitting around a small table at a bar. It was arranged on Twitter at the last minute and I’m not sure we even called it a tweetup.
This year was different. The official tweetup was packed with around twenty tweeters, and an unofficial “tweetup2” was scheduled even before we arrived in Las Vegas. That was well attended, too. Here’s a picture I took of some of the attendees. I would not doubt if next year we see people’s Twitter names on the official ILTA name badges.
Back to the point. The lightweight iPad is the perfect tool for conference tweeting. Some left their laptops at home and relied solely on iPads for their 140 character missives. Some even opted for using their iPads over smaller mobile tweeting devices, like the iPhone or BlackBerry. The reason: there’s an (iPad) app for that. The larger screen allows tweeters to use apps like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Twitterific, and my go-to Twitter app at the conference: TwitRockerLite.
The conference hash tag (#ilta10) and the individual session tags allowed conference attendees (and those who couldn’t make it to Vegas) the ability to follow the presentations in real time. The larger iPad screen allows for quicker typing and quicker switching between views (such as a feed of all tweets mentioning the #ILTA10 tag) to post, retweet, and follow others who are contributing to the flow.
While some may argue that web browsing is better on a laptop, I disagree. Heavier, clunkier laptops (some with screens not much bigger than the iPad) don’t have the benefit of multi-touch, which allows zooming in and out of pages with the pinch-unpinch gestures. In addition, while session rooms had designated “click-zones” for bloggers and tweeters, fellow attendees surely appreciated the silent keyless keyboards on the ubiquitous iPads. The one difficulty with web browsing is the absence of multi-tasking for quick switching between Safari and your favorite Twitter app. That deficiency will be a thing of the past when Apple upgrades the iPad operating system this fall.
I did not see any presenters using the iPad as a presentation device (i.e., attaching it to a projector to display a Keynote slide deck) but I saw a few iPads in the hands of presenters on stage. I used mine when speaking, as well. Here’s how: First, I saved my PowerPoint slides to my iPad via Dropbox (if you want a free file-sharing Dropbox account, click here). Next, I displayed my slides via the GoodReader app. This allowed me to follow along with the slides that we displayed on the large screens behind me (and to look ahead, if needed). In the presentation that I moderated, How To Increase the Use of KM Tools, I used my iPad to display my presentation outline and notes, which allowed me to keep the panel discussion flowing along.
For both presentations, I used the really helpful Compass iPad stand by Twelve South. The Compass stand is a compact, lightweight, folding device that looks as good as it works.
I tried my hardest to go completely paperless at ILTA this year. I didn’t really succeed because I broke down and used the old pen and paper to jot down a few notes from some of the presentations. But I did use my iPad to take some notes. There are many note-taking apps available. I’ve tried a few, and haven’t found one that rises above and beyond all the others. I do like the Notes app that comes standard on the iPad, and I am a fan of Penultimate because of its pretty good finger (or stylus) input recognition for scribbling notes without typing on the keyboard. Note-taking apps in general have a long way to go to completely obviate pen and paper, but I am sure that we’ll be there someday soon. If you have suggestions for a good note-taking app, please let me know. One thing that did come in handy was my Pogo Sketch Stylus. It’s more precise than using my finger tip for “hand written” note-taking on the iPad. As good as the Pogo is, I think styluses (styli?) have a way to go before they are considered a must-have iPad accessory.
Of course, I used my iPad for all the other normal things, like checking email and calendar appointments – and even playing an occasional stress-relieving game or two (Angry Birds or geoDefense, anyone?). In my opinion, the iPad is the new must-have device for conferences. After my experience in Las Vegas, I won’t attend another conference without it.
How did you use your iPad at the ILTA Conference (or some other conference recently). I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a note in the comments.
Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms