What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

Summary: Neither dead nor God, Steve Jobs has been praised to unprecedented lengths in the past 24 hours. Is the praise always on the mark or does it go too far?

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TOPICS: Apple
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Steve Jobs is not dead. Nor is he Jesus. For all of media frenzy that's emerged in the past day, you might get the sense that either (or both) of those things is true. Reactions to the Jobs news has, of course, been glowing, not because anyone (except maybe Samsung) is glad to see him go, but because Jobs is a brilliant man deserving of his accolades. Apple won't be the same without him at the helm.

Complete Coverage: Steve Jobs resigns

But there's also something strange afoot as people begin to reflect on the Jobs era and publish their lengthy and perpetually-queued retrospectives. This was perhaps epitomized most strongly in this post from Allen Paltrow, who details his experience meeting Steve Jobs at the opening of the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in 2006. For Paltrow, his love and adoration of Apple's products found a clear and manifest source in the body of Steve Jobs. Jobs is Apple in corporeal form, the literal and figurative core of the company. This is reason enough to love him.

Or how about this piece by former Apple engineer David Cairns, who details the experience of Steve Jobs holding a door open for him. Or this piece from GigaOm's Om Malik, in which he describes his post-Jobs existence in the following words:

"To me, like many of you, it is an incredibly emotional moment. I cannot look at Twitter, and through the mist in my eyes, I am having a tough time focusing on the screen of this computer."

Clearly there is something amiss here.

The Cult of Apple is well-documented and discussion of it is almost entirely played out by this point. But that doesn't mean it's gone away. In the aftermath of Steve Jobs' resignation, we are seeing, with increased frequency, the rise of personal reaction pieces, the "where were you when it happened" posts that read more like obituaries than they have any right to.

So here's mine. The seemingly universal adoration for Steve Jobs is not something that I share. This isn't because I have any particular animosity towards Jobs, but rather because I can't seem to draw the connection between Steve Jobs the man and Steve Jobs the man who led the company that created the computer I am currently using. I simply can't conflate the two.

I don't, for example, praise the inventor of the microwave every time I nuke a pair of Hot Pockets. Nor do I, to my knowledge, silently thank Garrett Morgan every time I cross the street. There is a difference, I think, between appreciating a product on a personal level and virtually idolizing those who had a part in creating it.

But maybe the adoration makes a certain amount of sense. What better way to show your appreciation for a company's products than to express your adoration for the people responsible for them? If you love the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, shouldn't you, by default, love the people who created them?

For Allen Paltrow and certainly countless others, that's the way it works with Steve Jobs. As a figurehead, Jobs' role is indisputable. But it should also be tempered by the fact that Jobs is a man, an exceptional one, sure--but still a man. Jobs may be worthy of the praise, but he certainly isn't deserving of the worship.

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Topic: Apple

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125 comments
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  • Refreshing...

    An article that looks at the "hype".

    Refreshing.
    Thx! ;)
    rhonin
    • It's not worship, but respect

      It is not surprising IT people would revere the figures that have had a significant influence on the technologies we use 60+ hrs a week. Few are in the same league as Apple and Jobs when it comes to defining the technologies many take for granted.

      But maybe that's just me, I regularly impressed with the many amazing inventions around me. The Airbus A380 and boeings 777 have me in awe every time I board. The quality and price of my home digital entertainment centres. The utilities that deliver clean fresh water and power to my residence (and take away my waste).

      rhonin it's not hype, it does require an understanding of the pieces necessary to make it all happen and the rare combination of talents brought together to realise these ideas as product and services.
      Richard Flude
      • Don't just see the tip, you might not know but it is ice-berg

        @Richard Flude +1 to your opinion
        tunwn.mdy@...
      • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

        @Richard Flude
        +1 All good points.
        tom@...
      • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

        @Richard Flude Of all of the wild statements being made I happened to reply to yours. Uhh, Could you explain 60+ hours a week. I mean, do you watch a lot of tv online or listen to a lot of music? Can you back up the seemingly inflated hour count?
        clochner
    • Yep

      @rhonin +1
      TomDavisSr
    • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

      @rhonin Agreed. It's much like the Gates era at MS. How people worshiped Gates ....
      daengbo
    • NOT refreshing,

      @rhonin ...rather, clearly designed to generate hits and comments...and here I am, helping him succeed. Curses!
      frabjous
  • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

    Only idiots takes things personal and worship Jobs. But unfortunately the world is full of idiots.

    Jobs deserves respect for his contributions to the tech industry. Nothing more and nothing less, that's it .
    owlnet
    • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

      @owlnet
      It takes an unusual person to want to be involved in any para-social relationship. It matters not if it is Jobs, Balmer, Ellison, a Hollywood "celebrity", a sports start or anyone else. :-)
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

      @owlnet Yes, and what is the impact of the tech industry on our daily lives? Enormous and so is Mr. Jobs's contribution to our daily lives.
      ebhb2004@...
      • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

        @ebhb2004 Watch who you lump together there in that "our daily lives" bit. thinking back over the years if Apple had never existed, if Jobs had never gotten off the ground it would not have impacted me one iota. The cult of personality around Jobs and Apple in general has always been something of a irksome mystery to me and it looks like it will continue to be irksome even after the Jobs era of Apple.
        Str0b0
      • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

        @ebhb2004@...
        And many, many others.
        tom@...
      • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

        @Str0b0 - You certainly would not have Windows around without Jobs. If Jobs had never been born I doubt Microsoft would even exist. That means the tech world would be radically different, and, most likely, not offer so many a career. Face it, without Jobs you would be effected to the nth degree!!
        The Danger is Microsoft
    • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

      @owlnet
      "Only idiots ...."
      You would tell people who/what to think? That smacks of other than Darwinism to me! I suspect a very closed miind at the other end of this response to ownlet. Rating: 0.
      tom@...
  • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

    @datadorklv His ultimate contribution was mobile... the iPhone was the start of the mobile revolution. Remeber browsing the web or checking email on BB?? It was bad, but it was the norm, those companies didn't care. Apple forced them to change.

    The app store alone has paid back 2 billion to developers... you can't say the same from Steve Ballmer or Michael Dell.
    Hasam1991
    • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

      @Hasam1991 No, but I remember doing quite effectively on my Palm Treo!
      timspublic1@...
    • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

      @Hasam1991 I was browsing the web on windows mobile quite well long before the iphone came along.
      SpiderTech
    • Wait... did you just say

      @Hasam1991 <br><br>Wow. Are you sure you ever "checked email on BB"?<br><br>Maybe you did, I don't know and I don't care. But, you making that comment I'm fairly certain you've never admin'd an email server delivering to a BB. RIM wrote the book on email to handhelds, and noone has come close since.<br><br>And, young grasshopper, give credit where it's due... RIM started the mobile revolution (<i>maaaaaybe</i> WinMo a little bit)
      UrNotPayingAttention
    • RE: What Steve Jobs means to me: absolutely nothing

      @Hasam1991
      "The app store alone has paid back 2 billion to developers... you can't say the same from Steve Ballmer or Michael Dell."

      I think at last count there were over 3 Million Visual Studio developers out there writing for Windows. I'm sure that with over 1 Billion Windows PCs plus other MSFT platforms such as SharePoint (and Windows Phone!) the combined salary of all these people is far north of 2 Billion USD.

      Either you are very naive or this is one of the dumbest statements I've read on ZDNet in quite a while.
      dazzlingd