Thursday, October 06, 2011


A Jobs Well Done

Ragged Thots takes a hiatus from its non-announced hiatus of the last few months to note the passing of the remarkable technological and cultural visionary Steve Jobs.

Let's note that this blogpost -- like probably all of the several thousand that have been produced since the blog's 2005 inception -- has been created on a PC. (To be exact, there might have been a handful drafted on a Mac while I was visiting a college campus or perchance borrowing someone else's PC.) As much as my friends in the '90s would tell me how much Apple/Mac computers were "intuitively" and aesthetically better than PCs, I never bought.  

However, as it happened the way to my technological soul was through the entertainment love of my life -- pop music. Starting in college and for a good ten years after, I was a DJ. And I still get to dabble "spinning" (as it was known when the items of choice were records and CDs) every now and then (such as my college Homecoming two weekends back).  So, the creation of the iPod lured me in as it did millions of others.  And, as these things progress, after being seduced by the music device, it would follow that the iPhone would tear me away permanently from the earlier "magic phone" family to which I had previously fallen in love with -- the Palm series (from III through the Treo).

And this summer, I got my iPad. And realized that, despite what Jobs thought he invented back in  1976 (and later in 1984), this was the true "personal computer." Indeed, it is so "personal" that it doesn't seem like a "computer." Instead, the technological became an extension of the discrete diverse tastes and interests of the individual. It's not about buttons anymore; it's about a most intimate of human activities -- touch. And you can carry your entire life -- books, music, work, etc. in a slim, sleek device.

While most Jobs' eulogies focus on the first (the creation of the Apple II and Mac in the late-70s/early-80s) and last (the iPod/iPhone/iPad troika) decades of his career, perhaps it was that middle period -- his exiled-from-Apple years -- that helped make him a true paradigm-shifting icon. Jobs departure from Apple allowed him to find and purchase a small computer graphics firm that became Pixar -- an animation studio that so far surpassed what Disney was doing in the field that Disney could do nothing more than buy it from Jobs!
But the experience of making entertainment content was the true missing link in the Jobs portfolio. It's what made it possible -- after he returned to Apple -- to take the company in a direction that made the whole PC vs. Mac debate obsolete. It's what enabled Jobs to leave longtime rival Bill Gates's Microsoft in the dust and battle Google for the title of technology king of the 21st century.

The interesting lesson there: Losing/getting fired (albeit from your own company) can sometimes set one up for  a transformative comeback.

In addition to his amazing inventions that truly bonded the technological with the personal (and produced some 317 patents), Steve Jobs left a rather stunning commencement speech in 2005 at Stanford that is required reading -- and viewing -- for everyone, the heart of which is this beautiful passage: 
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. [Emphasis added.] 
And, yes, read/watch the entire piece: 

How the Grim Reaper's specter can give one words to live by.  

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011, R.I.P. 

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