I succumbed! Well, I partly succumbed, buying myself an iPod Touch, rather than an iPhone (which is illustrated, but the user interface for the two devices is similar).  But I have to admit that I am impressed.

Yes the user interface is cool – or if you don’t like the ‘c***’ word the interface is intuitive and easy-to-use. But what I really like are the applications which exploit the device’s WiFi capabilities.  It’s good to access applications such as Twitter and Facebook from a mobile device – even if I have to download the data while I’m connected to a WiFi network; unlike iPhone users I can’t access networked services over a mobile phone network – but then again I’m not paying £40/month to O2!

I’m particularly excited when I speculate about the digital environment we’ll be living in in a few years time. Imagine what it will be like when most people have a device like this as a replacement for the current generation of mobile phones. And combine the richness and ease-of-use of such devices with, it is to be hoped, a more pervasive and affordable networked environment.  We with then have the personal information access point (Google, probably!), communications tool (such as Twitter) and location-aware tool (such as BrightKite) together with links with a desktop environment (I’m using the Netnewswire application on both my iPod Touch and my desktop PC). The digital world will be very different, I feel.

Of course the device will have its critics. Unlike the Google Android the device, the iPod Touch/iPhone’s operating system is proprietary; Google have made the operating system for Android available as open source.

And applications can only be (legitimately) installed from Apple’s walled garden – the iTunes Store.

But I think the world has moved on from the time when we seemed to prioritize certain aspects of the development environment over satisfying the user – we’re no longer dogmatic about open source and open standards, I feel; rather we seek to exploit open source and open standards if doing so can provide a satisfactory user experience. I think it’s good that we have moved to a more pragmatic approach rather than the dogmatic views we had in the past.

Yes, I like my new personal learning environment, personal research environment and personal social environment. Everyone should have one, I feel.