The Truth About Jobs
He was a tyrant that tolerated zero dissension. He terrorized his supporters and opponents alike. He trashed his competition and he trashed his allies for his life’s vision. His goal was perfection and nothing would stand in his way. His work was his life. His aspirations were the only thing that mattered. His objective was to conquer the world and he came closer than just about anyone else in achieving it. The blood and sweat that was left behind in the path he led wasn’t important. Disagreement was irrelevant. It was his way or you were in the way. He was the lawnmower, and the world was grass. Many people saw the result of his endeavors, of his single minded focus, and thought he was great and worthy to be praised. Others saw the same man and his actions and saw a monster that needed to be stopped.
Just in case you were wondering, I was referring to Adolph Hitler, infamous Chancellor of Germany who led the Third Reich. But it’s kind of amazing how he sounds a lot like the recently departed Steven Jobs. Both had an impact on the world. Both sought perfection. Neither could care any less about how they achieved that vision of perfection.
Now there is a big difference between trying to literally conquer the world and trying to conquer the technical world. People died because of Hitler’s vision. Mr. Jobs’ vision didn’t even remotely come to the destruction of humanity on such a level. But I find it quite disturbing that so many people want to call Mr. Jobs a great tyrant because of he was able to run a company of people who built great products.
Today, there are all kinds of stories about Mr. Jobs running through the internet. There was the story of how he got his friend Steve Wozniak to help him refine the Atari game Breakout. Mr. Wozniak did such a great job that Atari paid Mr. Jobs a five thousand dollar bonus for the work that was done. But instead of sharing the windfall with his friend, Mr. Jobs kept the profits to himself. He was a model of capitalism after all. Mr. Jobs denied the fact that he had fathered a child. Instead of stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for his indiscretion as a young man, he made the same choice that a lot of young men make when they do not have the conviction or the courage to do what is right for his daughter, the fruit of his loins, but he would spare no attention on the fruit of his labor. He is a capitalist after all.
There is a lot of love and sympathy being offered to the Jobs family. I haven’t seen this much emotional sentiment expended on the death of a single individual since Michael Jackson. Interestingly, the same people Mr. Jobs would have no problem of castrating, the same people Mr. Jobs would not hesitate to rape, plunder, and steal from, are the very ones who are mourning his demise, the little people. People who wouldn’t care about the death of their flesh and blood aunt or uncle would buy a candle and leave it at the Apple store as a tribute and fond farewell to Mr. Jobs.
Apple products may be the greatest inventions in the world to many of us. I’m not a fan. While iPhones and iPods and iPads might be cutting edge technological wonders that can drive people to tent out for days in anticipation of their release, I prefer my technology a little more universal and a lot more open sourced. Apple does its best to keeps a tight rein on the software and hardware that are marketed as Apple compatible. An iPod might be the ultimate MP3 player. But there are plenty of excellent MP3 players on the market that are a fraction of the cost. An Apple product might have greater storage capacity and could hold thirty thousand songs. But at a cost of something like a dollar a song, I seriously doubt if I’m going to spend thirty thousand dollars to fill that puppy up. Something that holds only a couple thousand songs will do just fine.
As an information technology professional and a software developer, I prefer the personal computer market environment that’s a lot more competitive and a lot more affordable. I heard that Apple products were easy and intuitive to use. So I tried to give them a shot. But I have to admit, I didn’t find them all that intuitive for what I do. When coding software I find myself constantly using keystrokes combinations that slowed me down on the Apple keyboard. Why pay extra to be hindered? And with some familiarity with technology, I don’t really need the hi-tech handholding or the technological coddling that comes with the purchase of an Apple product. So maybe I just don’t feel so personally impacted they way Apple diehards feel that they have been impacted.
While Mr. Jobs is given credit for single handedly leading Apple to become the juggernaut of innovation like no other company, if we stop and think about it, Apple isn’t so much as an innovator as it is a marketer. Apple didn’t invent the computer, but they were able to develop it in a way that it could be marketed to the masses. Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player or the personal music experience, but it marketed the iPod and made it the foundation of an Apple revival when the steam fell out of the Mac market. Apple wasn’t so much a technological innovator as it was technological fashion statement. Apple is to computers as Gucci is to handbags.
Mr. Jobs passing holds no more and no less meaning to me than any other stranger’s passing. He was not my friend. He was nobody that impacted my life in any meaningful way that makes his passing such a personal loss for me. I’m sure if people would take a moment and step back from the marketing influence and take a good look at what’s left, they would develop a better, clearer understanding of their relationship with Steve Jobs and Apple.
Having never met the man many of us want to romanticize and focus only on his greatness because we can point to our electronic trinkets and marvel over how much those products have impacted our lives. But tyranny is tyranny and a tyrannical character is a tyrannical character. Nobody points to a Volkswagen and thinks how great Hitler was. Let’s not gloss over the true Steve Jobs.