Thursday, October 6, 2011

On the passing of Steve Jobs

I'm not sure exactly what to say about the passing of Steve Jobs; I'm not even sure if I should.

The Apple II computer was the first computer I ever used. Even now, all these years since, the nostalgia of the machine pulls to me in ways I cannot explain. I guess that means "he did it right," and perhaps that's the best possible compliment.

My fascination with computers began there, with that Apple II, and continues onward; and although I am not a "Mac fan boy," I see what Macs are, and what Apple was trying to do, and how they changed things forever. I get it, Steve. I really do.

Without Steve at the helm, I don't see Apple going in the direction he steered--MBAs will inevitably go for the quick buck, and they're often willing to forgo quality in their hell-bent acquisition of power and wealth. But Steve wasn't like that. No, he was driven by something more: A design philosophy. The fact that he became powerful and wealthy is just a testament to the philosophy to which he held. He saw the design as artistry, and in a way demanded to be treated like one. Usually, we use the word "visionary" to describe men such as he, but he would have rather been called "artist." It was more fitting.

Steve's gone now, and I suspect Apple will not follow the path he laid out for the company he founded. So much is the pity. But from within, Apple can easily remember the right direction, I think, by simply asking themselves: What would Steve do?

(Steve would release an iPhone 5 that's twice as powerful as the iPhone 4S, and he'd thumb his nose at the competition. Let them catch up. Let them try.)

There can be no doubt as to the long shadow he casts upon the tech landscape; and as an early giant of the early personal-computing era, his footsteps are deep and powerful. All we can do is follow them, and where those footsteps end we will pause and wonder: how did the giant manage to fly?

We (techie folks) will have to make our way forward in a Steve Jobs-less world now. It can be done, it'll suck, but it can be done. The landscapes we'll eventually see will be beyond even the imagining of the giant we once followed.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll eventually figure out how the giant managed to fly.

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