Welcome to Padvance!

My iPad hasn’t actually arrived yet. I just checked UPS Tracking, and apparently its last known location is Ontario, CA–50 miles east of my current location… quite a bit further away than my local Apple store. Such are the wages of sloth.

While I wait, I wonder–not for the first time–what am I actually going to do with this thing?

Yeah, right.

As we’ve all read repeatedly over the past couple months, the possibilities are myriad. Game developers salivate over the iPad’s potential as a gaming machine. Marvel Comics is betting big on the iPad as a comic book reader. At the opposite end of the leisure spectrum, teachers are thinking about how to put the iPad to work for education. Even the legal profession is getting in on the act.

This is a pretty seriously versatile device, even without multitasking, Flash support, a camera, and all of the other previously documented shortcomings. But in a way, that vast expanse of possibility is as dangerous as it is enticing.

The argument for owning an iPhone is simple: you need a phone, so why not buy a phone with an awesome touch OS and all kinds of available software? Same goes for other pieces of personal technology like laptop computers, cameras, and TVs. As fancy as they may have become, these classes of products were culturally established in the 20th century. We already know why we need them and how they can help us in our daily lives, because we grew up with these things.

The iPad, meanwhile, is something that in your grandpappy’s time might have been referred to (without a trace of irony) as a “newfangled gadget.” Although it can do many things, it’s a new class of device that isn’t a computer, a phone, an e-reader, or anything else we’ve dealt with before. The reason for owning one isn’t immediately obvious. Some very intelligent gadgetheads–including STP’s own Nadia Oxford–aren’t exactly at the front of the line to get one. And you know what? I can’t really blame them.

What I can do is start a new site dedicated to defining the iPad’s functional niche. That site is called Padvance.

My plan for this site is to take our readership along on a voyage of discovery. We’re going to figure out what the iPad is good for. We’re going to tell you why you need one if you haven’t gotten one yet, and how to get the most out of it if you have.

We’ll be covering games of course (courtesy of STP), but Padvance is going to be much more than a gaming site. We’re also going to conduct how-tos, review cool new apps and accessories, cover the latest news, write opinion pieces, and take videos of people using their iPads in creative new ways, personally and professionally.

Seton Hill University’s buying into iPad in a big way.

For instance, I’m currently a graduate student. How is the iPad going to help me in that capacity? I honestly have no idea, but I’m about to find out, and I’m going to share it all with you guys. We’ve got high school students, college students, videographers, coders, engineers, journalists, musicians, sales and marketing professionals…

We’re going to be coming at this thing from a lot of different angles, but the goal in each instance is the same: better living through iPad. We aren’t interested in doing it alone, either; as always, we’ll rely on your feedback, participation and advice to make the site as useful as it can be. We’re nothing without our readers, and we’re doing all of this for you.

Now, where the heck is that UPS guy?