Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs has died at 56.

Steve Jobs died today due to pancreatic cancer, just over a month after he resigned as CEO of Apple.

The homepage is now a tribute to Jobs.

The first sentence of the New York Times' obituary:

Steven P. Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple who helped usher in the era of personal computers and then led a cultural transformation in the way music, movies and mobile communications were experienced in the digital age, died Wednesday.
In any obituary thread on Metafilter, people normally post a period to represent a moment of silence for someone who has died. Many commenters today are posting an Apple logo instead. (You'll only see them if you're using a Mac.)

Searching through the Metafilter thread shows that several different commenters have used the word "aesthetic." For example, this comment:
Thank you for all the pretty computers. Meaning, thank you for thinking about design and style and what the rest of us out here had to look at and touch every day. Apple has forced the rest of the industry to think just a little bit more about the aesthetic of the consumer experience, which I appreciate.
Many comments also use the word "beautiful":
Steve Jobs believed the revolutionary idea that the tools you use should be as beautiful as the work you produce with them.
The New York Times quotes a Twitter post:
RIP Steve Jobs. You touched an ugly world of technology and made it beautiful.
A few years ago I was having a conversation about computers with an acquaintance who seemed to know more about them than I did. I had made it clear that I was a lifelong Mac user (with one small exception). He tried to explain why he preferred PCs to Macs. He said something along the lines of: "All Apple does is give computer users exactly what they want." Amazingly, he meant that as a criticism of Macs — for being too user-friendly and appealing. My response: "Gee, if that's all Apple does, isn't that enough?"

As I mentioned, there was only one exception to my lifelong devotion to Macs. In my first semester of law school, I had to use a PC. In order to take an exam on your computer you had to use the specific exam-taking software provided by the school, and it wasn't Mac-compatible. (Handwritten exams are allowed, but that isn't a viable option since you don't get any extra time.) At the beginning of the next semester, my law school announced that the software had been updated to be Mac-compatible. I was so frustrated by my bad luck — I can't get a new computer when I just bought a computer 4 months ago that's working fine, can I? Of course, as a first-year law student, I wasn't earning any money. I apologetically asked my mom if she could pay for a new Macbook for me, saying "I know I just got a computer . . ." but starting to explain why I thought the Mac's improvement over the PC would be worth it. She cut me off, saying: "I know exactly what you mean. You don't even need to explain it." (I got the Mac and sold the PC to another student — which wasn't hard, since I had the perfect explanation of why I wanted to sell a perfectly good computer.)

If you're a Mac user, you might not be able to put into words why using a Mac is so important. You just know.

The New York Times quotes Jobs:
He put much stock in the notion of “taste,” a word he used frequently. It was a sensibility that shone in products that looked like works of art and delighted users. Great products, he said, were a triumph of taste, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then trying to bring those things into what you are doing.”
The New York Times adds:
As the gravity of his illness became known, and particularly after he announced he was stepping down, he was increasingly hailed for his genius and true achievement: his ability to blend product design and business market innovation by integrating consumer-oriented software, microelectronic components, industrial design and new business strategies in a way that has not been matched.
A commenter in the Metafilter thread says:
I just told my wife, who is completely disconnected from the geek world where I live, that Steve Jobs was dead.

When I told her, she accidentally dropped her iPad 2 on the hard floor but it did not break. It didn't have a scratch on it.

I think that says something about this man who demanded and delivered excellence.
As I recently blogged and as many people are quoting today, Jobs had this to say about life and death in his commencement address to Stanford University in 2005:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

(Photo from this website via Google image search.)


Ron said...

I am amazingly unmoved.

rcommal said...


Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

There are only a few people whose deaths feel as if they leave the world emptier, as if a civilization has been drained of some of its blood. He was one of them. (And I suspect that of all the computer innovators of the past generation, he'll be the only one.) But his absence is an illusion: we touch him every time we use a mouse or download a song. And now to take the next step forward!

Anonymous said...

I'm a lifelong user of IBM & non-Macs. Grew up on the first IBM PC.

I found the IBM easier to use then the Apple/Macs. I loved the DOS non-user interface keystroke tools. Easier on my hands ergonomically then the mouse. And I never fully adjusted to the user-interface.

Years ago I briefly needed to use a MAC in my summer job. I accidentially deleted a statistical report. I "emptied" the "trashcan."

I hated that MAC.