Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs: 1955 - 2011

I was never a regular consumer of Steve Jobs' or Apple's products. I have some, but I'm a longstanding PC user and was never down with the iEverything lifestyle. Not my thing. And I was also never part of the Jobs-As-Techno-Prophet hagiography.

That being said, two things simply cannot be denied in the wake of his passing:

1. Jobs, along with the other ground-zero innovators of the home-computing movement, are responsible for creating the world we are in today. Whatever else he may have been, Steve Jobs was one of those rare individuals whose vision and drive to realize it dragged the rest of humanity's sorry ass across the yardlines of cultural evolution. Those who read/watch my stuff know that I am unabashedly glad to live in The Age of The Nerd, where each day makes the intelligent, the creative and tech saavy more and more vital to the world as the brutish and the pre-mechanization "strong" more and more obsolete; and I know that I owe a great deal of the thanks for this Age to Jobs. His name, unquestionably, belongs next to Edison, Ford and the other Titans who built the modern world.

2. Anyone dying in their mid-50s sucks, but a great thinker and creator dying so soon is a fucking tragedy. I know that, for a lot of people, there's something poignant or even "just" about the idea that cancer especially and death/disease in general "not caring" how important the afflicted is - "we're all equal in God's eyes" and all that. Honestly, I've never found that sentiment particularly comforting and certainly can't see what's "just" about it. Someone like Steve Jobs changed the entire world multiple times in just a few decades, how much further would we have moved ahead if he'd had a few more? There's no "balance" in that... no "great mystery." The whims of fate, destiny, whatever aren't things we should happily going along with - we should treat them like obstacles to be overcome. To me, that's what makes sense.


M2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M2 said...

Damn. Straight.

Sylocat said...

He also co-founded Pixar, which for me would rank as one of the highlights of anyone's career, even if he wasn't also one of the people who created the modern world.

It is indeed unquestionable that his name belongs next to Tesla* and the other titans who helped drag us out of the stone age.

*(Edison can suck it)

Regicidal Maniac said...


I was going to make that exact same comment, but you beat me to it. Edison can indeed suck it.

Anonymous said...

3. He helped create Pixar. 'Nuff said.

ScrewAttackSamus said...

Pixar was his biggest contribution; I always found him to be a guy playing second fiddle to Gates when it came to the computer age. Also, Edison was a complete fucking douchebag.

Mads said...

As much as Jobs changed the world, he only really changed half the world.

The fortunate, lucky half.

I salute him for changing the half of the world I live in, but when you use such language, I think it's important to realize the nuance of it.

Anubis C. Soundwave said...

Wow. I know Thomas Edison had an annoying habit of stealing or squelching other people's good ideas, but damn: Edison might have given us the phonograph and the light bulb.

Onto the late Mr. Jobs: from my childhood at school (Apple II series), to college (early Macintosh), to the modern era (the iXyz devices); his and Wozniak's machine has impacted my whole life.

And Jobs bankrolled Pixar.

= = =

@ MovieBob: I read where you're coming from. Unfortunately, viewing "early" death as an obstacle or adversary to progress will only make you frustrated.

Death is neither friend or enemy. It is simply what it is: the end of life.

ScrewAttackSamus said...

Actually Heinrech Goebel was the guy who invented the lightbulb; he even tried to sell his invention to Edison but the guy blew him off saying "there was no practical use in it" and then saw fit to use the idea after Goebel was dead. Edison was essentially a thug, a cheat, and a liar

Anubis C. Soundwave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anubis C. Soundwave said...

@ Aiddon: That's why I said "might have".

Actually, you may be right: dude electrocuted puppies to prove that DC (direct current) was the wave of the future and a more "humane" form of electric chair execution.

Then again, Edison and Goebel's Wikipedia articles say differently regarding inventions and patents: Edison's bulb came in 1879; Goebel's in 1894.

Actually, though, if anyone actually invented the light bulb, it was this guy, in 1845: John W. Starr.

Unfortunately, he died in 1846 of tuberculosis.

= = =

Why are we talking about Edison, anyway? This is about Steve Jobs, who (along with the other Steve, Mr. Wozniak) gave us the modern computing world and bankrolled Pixar.

Popcorn Dave said...

While I dislike many things about Apple, from their overpriced products to their endless restrictions to the annoying latte-sipping cult that surrounds it all, I think the world of computing and technology would be a lot poorer without them. I shudder to think of the bullshit Microsoft used to pull when no-one was offering an alternative, and many of Apple's key ideas - the fact that innovation means more than just extra CPU power, a focus on making a device that's pleasant and simple to use rather than just a bloated feature list, and the notion that technology should "just work" - seems to be spreading across the technology industry as a whole, whether you buy iProducts or not. About time too!

Like you, Bob, I wonder what else Jobs would have come up with if he'd had another ten years.

biomechanical923 said...

I heard that Jobs stole a bunch of his ideas.

Jobs was like the Zuckerberg to Wozniak's Winklevoss

David said...

I don't think that's a totally apt comparison biomechanical923.

Jobs is the reason that computers have different kinds of font. At least that's what is stated in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech.

SonofRyan said...

Poor guy, I hope his family is doing ok. They must have known it was coming so I hope that gave them time to prepare.

Smashmatt202 said...

Thanks you, MovieBob, for giving props to this man where it rightfully deserves.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@Popcorn Dave

Technology that "just works" invariably means technology that locks the user out of of it's basic underlying functions on the theory that users will just mess things up if allowed access. I want a computer, not a VCR. To me using a mac is like using a computer while wearing oven mitts and a pair of handcuffs.

Mads said...

@ Atomic Skull
How much experience do you have with osx?

buzzkillinton said...

@Atomic Skull
If i buy a computer i want to be able to click on something and for it to just start. i don't get this fascination with tinkering with things that work fine as is.
S. Jobs wasn't the most beloved man in the world but he will be missed and his influence will be felt for decades to come. R.I.P

Greg said...

To quote my favorite tribute so far:
"He never used focus groups for products or advertising. He would quote Henry Ford: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."

When presented with the legendary “Think Different” campaign that featured the world's most famous thinkers like Einstein, Lennon and Ghandi, Jobs only turned one image down – Steve Jobs.

In that one decision, he was wrong."

sex toys said...

Thanks so much for your article, quite helpful material.

Anonymous said...

You do know that Steve Jobs really did not do all that much to change the world, just changed it for us rich people--in America. Steve Jobs is kind of my big beef about objectivist libertarian types. Jobs gave us plenty of fun new toys to play with and gave those of us with money faster means of communicating as such (and of course pixar), but really not much has changed about humanity thanks to him. So now instead of rich able bodied white straight christian men ruling the world it is rich able minded white straight christian men. As someone who happens to come from both of those two types of oppressors, not that much of a difference. Most people on earth are still slaving away and being raped to death, now it just happens to them in electronics sweat shops in addition to farms and slaughter houses of Sorry to be a downer Bob, but sometimes the whole nerd self righteousness that you exude gets a little annoying (on that note I will say I am glad you had enough humility to word this weeks Big Picture as you did).