I am typing this while sitting under a tree in a park next to a canal. I am outside, observing what is going on around me, enjoying a warm summer day, watching butterflies land on flowers and dragon flies hover over the stagnant water that is pooling in front of me, but I am working at the same time. I picked up a Samsung Galaxy tablet and it has revolutionized my proficiency as a blogger. Now I can write without being cooped up in a room tied down to a laptop. This is blogging, unteathered.
Before buying this tablet I struggled with the question as to whether or not I actually needed it. I have a netbook — it is not big, it is portable, and it has always served me well. I have a smartphone — it allows me to do translations, pull up maps and my travel notes, and browse the internet while on the go. With this level of digital proficiency why would I need a tablet too?
I answered this question with more of a vision than an argument: I pictured myself sitting under a tree, in a park, next to a canal writing a blog post. The versatility of blogging with a mobile tablet, in my mind, would be its biggest asset. I can’t blog with a fucking telephone.
Sure, I could open up my netbook in a park, wait five minutes for it to boot up, and then blog with it. Well, until the battery runs out in under 60 minutes. I have never really used a laptop like this for a reason: they are just too cumbersome, take too long to go through the boot up/ shut down process, the battery lifes are far too short to even bother, and if I lost my computer through theft or breakage I would be floating in that stagnant canal without a paddle — an incredibly irritating and semi-perilous set back.
This tablet is not a stand in for my laptop, it’s an extension of my notebook. Now, when I am sitting in a park, on a bus, on a train, in a station, waiting in a restaurant, or any other time that I find myself out doing nothing during a day of travel and I want to write something up, I just pull out the tablet and within 10 seconds I’m typing. While I still carry my notebook for quick notes, I can now write entire blog posts while mobile.
This tablet allows me to take blogging anywhere. So I’m now blogging while hanging out in parks enjoying an excellent summer day. And if I come within range of a wifi signal I can publish. Simple. My work and lifestyle have both been drastically improved.
The tablet also makes long train and bus journeys vastly more productive. I can now write where I once just sat around doing nothing but dozing and looking out the window. The amount of time that travelers spend on public transportation is incredible. For years I have been looking for a way to optimize this time and use it to create. I have tried many differ in devices and methods, but none have ever worked out as well as the tablet. Now when I arrive in a destination I can often have some stories that are queued up and ready to publish rather than facing a hole in my publishing schedule that I will be pressured to fill.
Another advantage of tablet blogging is that the time gap between experience, writing, and publishing tightens up. I no longer need to wait until I am settled in a room and have my laptop out and ready to go before writing a story, as I can now just whip out the tablet and write up experiences, conversations, and observations almost as soon as they occur. This keeps everything fresh, the memories vivid, and the emotional state continuous. Writing is given another dimension when you can create a record of something while watching it transpire.
Now, I say that I’m using a relatively expensive electronic device in public. This doesn’t sound like a very good travel security standard operating procedure, now does it? There is a benefit/ risk ratio to just about any decision in travel, and dealing with potential theft is a daily preoccupation. While I would not recommend whipping a tablet out in the streets of a city with a relatively high street crime rate in places like China, Japan, Korea, etc . . . the prevalency of bold and brash style theft is relatively low so the risks here are mitigated by the benefits.
Though even in places with higher street crime rates the tablet can still come in pretty useful when in more enclosed scenarios — such as in cafes or restaurants. The fact of the matter is that mobile devices are meant to be used mobiley. This is their prime advantage over more sedentary/ expensive electronic gear like laptops. If my $200 tablet is jacked, oh well — it happens. If I’m not using it on the move there is no point in having it to begin with.
The problem doesn’t come if someone runs up and tries to swipe my gear, it comes if someone pulls out a gun and shoots me first. Evaluating the risk of this occurring in any given place is part of the art of world travel.
Travel blogging is about the details, the little things, the small impressions, thoughts, and micro-experiences that connects together the big events and make up the whole of travel. This is what differentiates blogging from other types of writing. Blogs are made for publishing stories and anecdotes that are interesting but may not be interesting, in depth , or important enough to publish as an article on a magazine style site.
Blogging shows a mind in motion.
These are someone else’s words, not my own, but they are right on. On a blog you can publish the beginnings and middles of an idea rather than needing to wait until getting the final results. Blogging shows the deep side of a story by allowing the small and personal details to shine through.
In this way, occasionally blogging from a tablet allows for the expression of the connector moments in travel. I’m not going to use sit down, laptop time writing about blogging next to a small canal in a park. That’s just not going to happen. Laptop time is for writing in-depth articles that require research, lots of copying and pasting content, time and effort. The laptop is for feature stories. The tablet is for those smaller impressions that would otherwise be left out.
There are only a certain amount of hours in each day that I am willing to sit in a room chained to a computer, but there is a lot more that I want to write about and publish that I can do within this time frame. So I take my work mobile. I sit on the laptop for a few hours in the morning then I go for a walk, sit in a park, write for a while on the tablet; go to a coffee shop, write for a while; go to a restaurant, write for a while. By the end of a day of this I’ve made headway on stories big and small, and hopefully a handful will be ready to ship.
Though the tablet has opened up more avenues for writing and publishing, there are some things that I have not yet been able to do well with it. Copy and pasting is a real chore. So is editing — which makes working on more complex stories that require research extremely frustrating and nearly impossible. The continuous flipping between windows or apps is also a hassle. Formatting photos in posts within the WordPress app is also not as streamlined as it at first seems. As for coding on the tablet . . . well, I’m not even going to touch that. So there is still a need for a laptop.
The tablet works best when used as an auxiliary blogging device.