Wednesday, October 05, 2011


I've poked a lot of fun at Steve Jobs and the Cult of Apple here over the past few years, but there's simply no denying his revolutionary genius or the effect that it had on our culture. Not simply certain aspects of our culture but our culture itself.

Jobs was a singular visionary who changed the way we talked, listened, connected with each other, saw the world -- how we as a species lived. He made technology an extension of who we are as human beings and allowed it to evolve in tandem with us -- and occasionally ahead of us, pulling us into the future at a seemingly impossible pace. The inexhaustible assembly line that flowed directly from his imagination often felt like it had the ability to actually speed up time, and the amazing gadgets it produced likewise felt as if they possessed transformative properties that literally altered our reality. And in fact they did. They have.

It would simply be impossible to repay the debt of gratitude that this planet owes him. As someone said on Twitter just a few minutes ago: The man was our generation's Henry Ford.

You'll hear a lot of seemingly hyperbolic eulogizing over the next couple of days -- but in reality there will be nothing hyperbolic about it. All the flowery encomia will be true.

Steve Jobs changed everything.

So long, man. And thank you.


OmegaMom said...

iSad, too. Never expected to be, but my god, the man's output touched almost every aspect of our modern lives.

mtoddohno said...


CNNfan said...


FabMax said...

"You'll hear a lot of seemingly hyperbolic eulogizing over the next couple of day"

You mean like the following: "The man was our generation's Henry Ford."?
Or this one: "Jobs was a singular visionary who changed the way we talked, listened, connected with each other, saw the world -- how we as a species lived."?

His achievements belong solely in the realm of accessability of mobile devices, i.e. he took stuff others inventend and simplified it for the mass market.

He should be honoured for that, but that hardly makes him like Henry Ford. (To go further: Ford did something for his employees. Apple produces at Foxconn.)

Anonymous said...

iface palm....

Seriously...he is getting compared to Henry Ford? Unless he has a massive anti-Semitic slant I don't know of, I don't get the comparison.

Turning a cottage industry into a process that streamlined costs, insuring that his American workers not only had a living wage, but could actually purchase his product (Henry Ford) is not the same as basically employing slave labor in China. Out performing dozens of companies offering the same product (Ford) is not the same as serving a niche (music and phones) for one single country (Apple doesn't even register on the global market outside of the US).

Do not get me wrong, Jobs was a visionary in terms of convincing a segment of the buying public to purchase inferior products for no other real reason then creating an image for the consumer. I don't get how it works...but it does.

Apple is also very innovating for committing acts that other corporations would get racked through the PR coals, yet magically, Apple is "think different" ergo, not committing anything wrong. Such as patenting ideas they don't plan to use just to prevent competition, employing their slave labor, inferior products, and blatant designed in planned obsolescence (all companies do this but Apple takes it to an insane extent...again with no one complaining).

I mean, lets compare Jobs to any other CEO. If said CEO "moved" to Tennessee, only for the single purpose to fulfill the 2 month residency requirement to get onto the state's transplant list (Tennessee has the shortest wait for a liver), immediately moving as soon as the residency requirement was over, not even willing to reside and pay taxes while waiting for the liver, that CEO would get crucified in the media. He got his liver, and someone that actually lived in that state (paying the state taxes into the system to pay for the availability of livers) got to wait precariously longer. And the tone of the media when this got out wasn't "Rich Asshole Steals Organ" but along the lines "Steve Jobs' Reported Liver Transplant Stirs Debate"

I am not saying that another CEO wouldn't do what Jobs did...but America's love affair with this dude basically gave him a pass for doing it. If the head of BOA or GE did it, people would be calling for blood.

I never got the fascination with Apple products nor have I ever understood the hero worship of this man.

You want to give accolades to individuals, who actually changed your life? John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. The simple fact that almost assuredly I am your only reader who knows of these men is criminal. Every single aspect of your modern life is do to these two. Ah...but they never made a snazzy ad campaign so fuck em....

Anonymous said...

(without hating Jews)

Chez said...

Why did I know this would bring out the pissy kinds of people who used to say shit like, "Aw, you like Soundgarden? They're sell-outs, man. They suck. You should be listening to Tad!" Any idea how ridiculously self-satisfied that kind of nonsense sounds? Of course there are people who did more for the world than Jobs, but it doesn't take away from the incredibly visionary things he did -- and you look like a fucking tool for debating it.

Seriously, don't like Jobs, fine -- I couldn't care less.

Jadine said...

Why is it that when someone feels the need to be an asshole, they post under anonymous?

Jeremy said...

Steve Jobs made billions selling overpriced gadgets to status-conscious yuppies and hipsters in the millions.

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth urged MLK Jr. to come to Birmingham and ultimately helped assure the equality of millions.

Both died yesterday. Three guesses whose obituary gets more press coverage (and the first two guesses don't count).

namron said...

Anon. reminds me of the contrarian op-ed stuff at the death of MLK. Sure, we later found out he liked to beat on hookers and he had Tiger-like threesomes, and yes, he was not above glory-hounding. But the long-term results of his life's work are most assuredly historic. Jobs' place in the cultural and technical history of the US is really unknowable at this stage. I suspect it lies somewhere between the opinion of anon 10:12 and the media's posthumous blowjobs he is receiving today.

Anonymous said...

I get it Chez and Jadine (I am the anonymous that ranted about Jobs)...I come off as an asshole...and arguably I am.

A lot of the things that Jobs is known as "visionary" in the US is because Americans are idiots when it comes to technology. He gets credit for a lot of things he didn't actually do. Much like Edison, the we remember Jobs more than we remember the people who did the actual innovating.

I apologize for bringing up some of the shameful things that Apple continues to do. I have to remember that certain companies and individuals are beyond reproach...

I will just compare Apple's policy of patenting concepts without any desire to utilize them other than prevent their development and the open sourced research that Microsoft is allowing with their Kinetic interface. This means a tremendous amount to me not only as an engineer, but as a military vet. This is no boast, the field of prosthetic research has advanced extremely quickly because of Microsoft's corporate policy to allow anyone work with their coding in this field. Flip back to Apple, you can't even use FLASH on their phones because they want YOU the consumer to be stuck using THEIR coding...that pretty much the rest of the planet doesn't use. You want to buy an app to waste time on your You want to do research using their intellectual property, they will FUCK you. HARD. This is the major reason why the vast majority of the world does not use Apple.

Just to reiterate, I am not saying that what Apple does is all that different than what most companies do. I merely pointing out that only Apple has this corporate image that is a fantasy...and people just lap it up.

Seriously, can we just post a list of sacred cows we aren't allowed to approach. This way I won't piss people off so damn much.

Chez said...

You're right, Jeremy -- Tad does rule.

Anonymous (and for fuck's sake why can't you even bother to make up a fake name -- JobsH8tr or something?) I'm the first one to say that Apple propriety pisses me off to no end and I've said many times in the past that not everything Jobs created was all that brilliant, he simply knew how to market his stuff better than most people. But again for the cheap seats: That takes nothing away from the astounding things he accomplished -- things that really did change who we are as a culture (not just in America, incidentally, although thanks for the snotty and not-at-all-subtle jab).

As for your assertion that Apple is basically the Disney of technology companies -- a ruthless corporation with an untouchably benign image -- that may be true. However, you're right when you say that Apple is really no worse than any other company; you just seem to take issue with how they're perceived, and that's more the fault of Apple's acolytes than it is the company itself -- and I've taken more than a few shots at the Apple disciples who would buy a pile of dogshit if Jobs introduced it with great fanfare and slapped the iconic logo on it.

Again, though, none of this takes away from what Jobs accomplished. And while I'm all for pissing people off, your decision to argue all this shit the morning after the guy died just makes you look like a petulant tool.

Jen said...

"His achievements belong solely in the realm of accessability of mobile devices, i.e. he took stuff others inventend and simplified it for the mass market."

Jesus, I feel like FabMax and Anonymous are trying to make anyone honoring Steve Jobs feel like a tool because we're all sad there won't be more innovative iPod features in the near future.

The man acquired Pixar in the mid-80s and is the reason we have Toy Story and Finding Nemo. And I'm not saying that to be funny. He built up NeXT, which became the basis for the Mac OS, which is praised regularly for it's intuition based interface.

And he did bring his mobile technology to the masses. Not just because of his smart marketing, but of the very basic accessibility. Being able to video chat from Atlanta with my friend living in South Korea - that is fucking phenomenal, and I don't give a shit who invented it (though, big kudos). It's an amazing technology that we have now, but the fact is, I can afford to do it because of Steve Jobs.

So I thank him. And if you don't want to, that's fine, but how about you not be such a dick when someone is just trying to pay his respects?

Jen said...

And why does every goddamn internet troll feel the need to compare the rate of public mourning when two tragedies occur on the same day?

"The modern world makes a strange thing of death. We amplify the world so much that it seems smaller, more manageable. We connect to more people, many of them one way connections due to television and film. Media constructs a world both infinitely richer and infinitely snugger. But that also means that death isn’t just an occasional thing to us, it doesn’t just darken that black day when someone close to us passes on. There are now a hundred little deaths every year for each of us, people we know but don’t know, people who touched us from a distance without ever knowing us back. The price we pay for infinity are the numbers that drop continually out of the equation. Each loss makes the world feel that much smaller." - From a Pajiba article the day Elisabeth Sladen died.

As sad as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth's death is, he is not the public fixture that Mr. Jobs has been over the last two decades. Steve Jobs is a household name, and thus his death is more personal, and to judge anyone for mourning one loss over the other is rude and presumptuous.

CNNfan said...

Going back to the dawn of personal computers, Apple provided significantly greater processing power than early IBM PCs.

Steve Jobs earned his place in history, long before computing got junked to fake virtual machines built in the global slums. Real computing has become a lost art.

NotAnonymousAnymoreHappyChez? said...

There...just for you Chez.

And I would further argue that arguing this shit the morning after the guy died makes me more look like the typical internet denizen...

shit...I guess yeah...a petulant tool.

J. Dack said...

It's hitting me harder than I thought it would. I usually don't care much when a rich/famous person dies, but my entire youth was shaped by Apple computers.

iSad too.

As far as anon and all the other people pissing on his grave today, fuck them. Forget about iPhones and iPads for a minute, and think back to the first Apple. Do you realize there's a good chance without Jobs and Woz, the computer you're using to hate on a corpse might be completely different, or perhaps not exist at all?

I've been a computer geek all my life, but I stopped with vitriolic hatred of the devices I didn't like a bit after puberty.

Haters gonna hate I guess. I say grow the fuck up.

FabMax said...

@Jen: Since when does Skype belong to Apple?

I'll make you a deal. You stop trying to be a dick about gushing over what Jobs allegedly did, and I stop being a dick about what Jobs really did.

Helping Pixar was great. Driving forward the development of the graphic computer interface was great, too. (Although I still don't understand how usability gained by removing one of the mouse buttons.) I also applaud him for the spread of the MP3 player. Credit where credit's due. But all this means he was good at adapting stuff, which in turn means that he was a great business men. That's all.

But apart from that: what exactly did he do? Smartphones? Pad computers? These are toys. You can't even use pads to read ebooks without making your eyes bleed. (That's where the most basic gadget of all - the Kindle - shines.) Add to this using Foxconn, using udated hardware, limiting technical accessability (no Flash, no USB, iTunes), that bloated thing that is Apple's public image, and him being a dick to his employees, and you get a more complete picture of the man.

I simply cannot abide this hero worship of a someone who just wanted to make money. It was bad enough when he was alive with all those fanboys. But now even persons I like for their common sense put him up on a pedestal.

Chez said...

Knock it off, Fab. I don't particularly care what you can or can't abide. I appreciate your reading, but it's not my job to make sure you don't lose respect for me on account of an opinion I happen to voice -- which is what I assume you were getting at.

Jen said...

@FabMax: Obviously I didn't say he created or owned Skype. I was praising the actual hardware that allows me to use Skype from the palm of my hands anywhere I want to. I don't believe the his mobile devices are just toys. I believe that they redefined the way that human beings are able to connect with each other. The software is certainly important but without a platform to run it off of, it's useless, and it is the platform that I'm praising.

Jen said...

"I simply cannot abide this hero worship of a someone who just wanted to make money." - FabMax

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me." - Steve Jobs

nancym said...

Holy shit. We can't wait until the guy is in the ground to start bagging on him for his business practices? This kind of crap is all over google+ this morning too.

No, he's not a god. He wasn't the Second Coming. It's well documented that he was difficult to work with, and many of his business decisions can be criticized. But he changed a lot of people's lives, and made many lives better with the use of innovative technology.

Don't go all freakin' Ayn Rand here on him, that's just stupid. He's a guy who invented some cool stuff, and now he's dead, and some of us will miss him. His children are fatherless and his wife is a widow. Have a tiny bit of respect.

FabMax said...

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me." - Steve Jobs

Oh, that's why he led his company to squeeze as much money out oh their products as possible by cutting corners in workforce and materials? Don't delude yourself.

@Nancym: I have the outmost respect for the loss his family suffered. But that does not matter. The chance that any of them will read the comments here, or on any blog out there are very slim.

Also, I am not mad at Jobs. He did what he did, and now he's dead. That is sad.

I am angry at those people who seem to believe that he was special. How can someone who deals in technology affect someone else emotionally? I do not understand that. Jobs did not create art. His machines may look nice (and we don't know how much he was involved in the actual creative processes), but it is unfathomable to me that mere machines can evoke emotions.

I want to call out the completely nonsensical relation some people seem to have with Jobs because they bought the gadgets his company produced.

Stephen said...

I don't know about all this arguing. I've been using apples for most of my adult personal life (sadly not at work) and for me, there's nothing better. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to exercise their wallet accordingly. To basically say that millions of people are fools because they don't happen to agree with the way YOU spend YOUR money is silly. To use a person's passing as a platform to voice that distaste is...well, words escape me. Fill in that blank yourself.

Look up any of the inventors, innovators, captains of industry that have been named on this thread and you'll find questionable decisions/practices, personal demons, strange bedfellows, and plenty of skeletons in the closet. If you zero in on questionable labor practices, you'd better add them to a long list of companies that will feel your wrath.

All that being said, David Pogue wrote a very nice "eulogy" that I think says it all.

CNNfan said...


Watch "Pirates of Silicon Valley" which suggested Bill Gates stripped the entire operating system off the chips inside the Apple Macintosh PCs that Steve Jobs trusted him with to develop Multiplan. That's right, the first graphical user interface spreadsheet app by Microsoft was not on Windows! It wouldn't surprise me if Steve Jobs is posthumously credited with inventing Microsoft Windows. Apple is the Cadillac of personal computers.

Ducky said...

Stay with me for a minute. I don't like Kurt Cobain. Never have, and I don't think that will change anytime in the future. It's a complex distaste that doesn't rely on any one thing, instead being a number of issues that I won't get into right now. Call it a clash of personalities. That being said, I can't say I wasn't sad when I found out he offed himself. Like him or hate him, the man changed the game forever and, for me anyway, for the better. For that,and other actions and beliefs, he earned my (grudging) respect.
Was Steve Jobs an asshole? Most likely. Frankly, I've yet to shake hands with a rich man who wasn't. Was he, himself, a great inventer. Maybe, though I haven't heard of him personally tinkering with anything for over a decade. Do I like him? No, but because of the way he changed the way things are done, he earned my (again, grudging) respect. Things are better because of Jobs' ability to get like-minded people under one roof and work towards a better tomorrow. And he made some bucks off of it. I have nothing but deep sympathy for his family and friends, and I will simply rap this disjointed speech up with what I posted on facebook yesterday when I heard the news.
"Steve Jobs' file didn't get deleted. It was converted to a format that will allow us to download him at $9.99 a pop.
Farewell, technomancer."

Jason said...

He is the source of great ideas.

But he didn't change *everything*.

He still exploited cheap Chinese labor to do his bidding. Your iPad and your iPhone (and MY iPad and MY iPhone) weren't made by hippies in some earth-day commune.

They were made in a factory, by people who work long hours for very little pay to barely live above third world standards.

Chez said...

Boy, those little Chinese slaves sure do make good stuff. Thanks, guys!

Jeremy said...

@ Jen

As said troll, let me just say that I am familiar with Rev. Shuttlesworth's work in Cincinnati (I grew up across the river in Kentucky), as well as his historical legacy. So I was personally very moved by what that legacy meant, and saddened to see it overshadowed when I really think the values he represented should be celebrated.

I don't disrespect Jobs. I don't belittle his marketing accomplishments and vision for design synergy. I just want the focus of our media to be a little more, well, broad than 'what happened with celebrities A, B, and C, tonight at 9.' And yes, Jobs was more than "just" a celebrity CEO. But he was a celebrity. If he hadn't made himself such a public face of the company, but had been just as innovative, the media wouldn't be bombarding us with every nerd's and fanboy's eulogy.

That's not an indictment of Jobs as a person or his fans. It's just a statement on what we as a people seem to value and the media's reflection of that.

(Or maybe I'm just an angry history nerd and I has a sad just as big as the guys who loved what Jobs did for their Apple stock or the phone in their pocket.)

Chez said...

This really needs to be said one more time: Sorry, Jeremy et al, but you're really a special kind of contrarian asshole if you feel the need to split hairs over whether someone deserves the amount of grieving he or she gets immediately after death, or compare that person's life with those you deem more deserving of the attention.

FabMax said...

@CNNFan: I know all this and it does not matter.

@Chez: When is it okay to start argueing about these kind of things? Is there any kind of fixed time limit?

Chez said...

Don't be pedantic, please, Fab. It's a stupid and petty debate to have a few hours after someone died. It's a silly debate, really, regardless -- but particularly before the body's even cold.