Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

My facebook wall is flooded. My twitter stream is overwhelmingly monolithic in perspective. Google is simply and elegantly stating the truth. Apple has a simple image, minimalistic text, elegantly design. It begins to hit home: Steve Jobs is dead.

He is a man who’s influence is bigger than perhaps any contemporary will ever be able to say. I could say what I admire, the innovation, the relentless creativity, the artistry, the culture he created for technologists and the interest in what people could do with technology rather than how technology could be applied to old problems. 

I definitely admire the man.  And earlier today I posted on my facebook wall some of the inspirational things he said to Stanford's class of 2005.
"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."
"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."
I will likely look to his quotes for inspiration again as I have often done in the past. But that doesn’t mean that his inspiring me and the Silicon Valley community I am a part of negates other effects he’s also had.

He acknowledges in 1985 in an interview part of the cost of new technology is old technology is obsolescent. I understand that. But it irks me how much the planned obsolescence is a part of Apple’s design. Simple things like the ability to change a battery without sending it back to the store makes all apple products irreparable, which is horrible for the environment. I am perfectly find with my iPhone seeming inadequate when the next generation comes along, but the inability to choose to use it because it will die in few years time is another story. There is no good way to get rid of it either- while the clean design and compact size are wonderful when I’m using it, the reality is after it’s life the only way to separate those components involves toxic waste which is generally outsourced to China or India – causing a great deal of harm to those who’ve never used his products.

I hate the human toll of ewaste and digital manufacturing. And although he created a culture of creativity for designers where innovation was central, where the budget for juice was over a hundred thousand annually – he also turned a blind eye to the use of conflict materials supported by slave labor. He turned a blind eye the suffering of those building his products when toxic materials were used by Wintek and when conditions were so bad at Foxconn that workers were driven to suicide. Meanwhile in his own offices LGBT employees were treated with respect and Apple was one of the first corporations to stand for marriage equality and against Prop 8 here in California. And the children of the next generation will grow up knowing about ewaste and environmental degradation due to watching Wall-e in their youth. So it’s complicated. He simultaneously pushed forward with radical change and made the computer and the tools it offers accessible to millions of households forever changing how digital media is made, received, distributed, what possibilities exist in film, music, and graphic arts and more – but as many before him, he left a wake of destruction out of sight and out of mind for those using his products.

He is indubitably one of the most visionary men of our era, and any one man could embody how the digital era has changed our way of life, it is him. And that is worthy of reflection. He might be part of a destructive capitalistic society - but he is also brilliantly disrupting elements of it. And inspiring the next generation of technocrats to think creatively, disruptively, and vivaciously. Unlike Bill Gates, he was never one to donate to charities or tackle social problems, but those things he did do, he did well and with passion.

Beginning in elementary school I’ve worked with iMacs. In junior high when running for one of the student council positions my slogan was “iNagrani, uVote4Me” (Thanks to Molly for coming up with that one!) Although my first mp3 player was not an iPhone, it was influenced by one. And I later was given an iTouch which I’ve used fondly ever since. I have an iPad that I carry around and has helped me by carrying emergency maps to help while navigating through Europe & Central Asia. My iPhone has become the way to check in with the world, read the news, and make all my morning calls before getting out of bed. Growing up in Silicon Valley the techies have always been household names and part of the conversational landscape- and so while I unfortunately never got to meet Mr. Jobs, I will miss him. His influence on my local community, the global community, the possibilities of technology and the digital era can never been forgotten.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home