iPads are continuing on pace in terms of the adoption curve. Though technology adoption is not as simple as first adopters/second adopters/third and so on, there are some definite patterns that seem to recur with depressing regularity.

Glossing over complexities, it seems that first adopters try a new technology because it’s new and by doing so gain experience in the possibilities. Second adopters try it because they think they should, but are disappointed when it doesn’t do things in exactly the same way that they are used to or doesn’t exactly replace a tool that they use regularly. (One might argue that that lack of exact duplication is the point of a new technology.) That group either drops it, decries it, or decides to wait and see where it will go.

In the next phase, the technology picks up a few new adopters who combine with the first adopters to create new uses, or even new paradigms of use, that end up controlling the direction of a particular technology.  Third adopters take whatever the outcome is and run with it. The second adopters, who could have had lots of interesting ideas, often kick themselves for not having any input.

Shades of some of this are evident in two posts from today’s Higher Education Chronicle, one by Robert Talbert describing some of the currently perceived limitations of using iPads in education (“My three weeks with an iPad“). The second is by Nick DeSantis on the LectureTools app, originally developed by Perry Samson (“Professor’s Classroom iPad App Debuts at Consumer Electronics Show“). Favorite sentence in the latter article? “The goal, Mr. Samson said, is to occupy the devices students typically use to drift away from the learning environment.” Precisely!

Meanwhile, the rumor mills are buzzing about Apple’s January 19 event on publishing and eBooks, apparently targeting the publishing industry. Speculation includes an iPublishing app or channel, a TextBook app, undercutting Amazon and Barnes & Noble with some new iBook format that synchronizes across devices, an iBook lending library, updates to Pages for even easier eBook publishing, or something more specific like a deal to supply iPads and eTextbooks to a particular university or NYC school district? We’ll find out soon enough. Watch your Apple news outlet or post your favorite Apple event feed to “Ripe for Destruction” so we can all tune in.