The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

17Nov/11Off

The Misplaced Mourning of Steve Jobs

I was sad to hear about Steve Jobs death, but not as others have been.  Most call him a visionary genius, but to me he was little more than a benevolent dictator leading a technology cult.  The awe Apple seems to create is not through revolutionary features but through the stripping out of function in deference to form.  Apple reduces every complex problem down to an overly simplified interface, satisfying only the least common denominator crowd, hipster aesthetic purists, and a small few who either break the ties that bind their device or mindfully accept technology on Apple's terms.  Apple and Jobs have been adept at making the old new again, at creating the perception that they intended what long had been, albeit inelegantly.

I had more fully featured MP3 players years before there was an iPod. I had smarter phones years before there was an iPhone.  I had a more capable tablet years before there was an iPad.  I had more powerful multitasking personal computers years before it was possible with a Mac.  Apple did not come up with these ideas nor the technology that realized them, all they did was package other people's invention in a form that ensured popularity through the careful crafting of a limiting experience.  And in that capacity Apple has excelled; their products have deserved their reputation of being easier for novices to use and better at their limited tasks.  Tightly controlling what your users are allowed to do, what your software is allowed to do, and what hardware they are allowed to do it on has a magnificent impact on ease of use and stability, ask any Windows or Linux/FreeBSD user who plays in a less regulated ecosystem.  And yet to my perpetual surprise, cultural perception seems to credit Apple with being the father and mother of all these technological wonders: the smart phone, the MP3 player, the tablet.  Steve Jobs' legacy seems not about invention or innovation but marketing, selling the people on the idea that less is more, that their way is the way, and ultimately (if unintentionally) that they were there first.

I don't like Apple, and I never liked Steve Jobs, but I, too, mourn his untimely death, for his passing is a horrible reminder that though our understanding and mastery of the universe has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few thousand years, all the money in the world cannot linger us many more days here on this good Earth.  Steve Jobs had literal access to billions, literal access to every master of every scientific, technological, and medical arena here on Earth, and yet he was little more protected from the vagaries of fate than the least of us.  How so very horrible and frightening that is, that in the end it mattered not the man he had become, but the every man he remained.

^ Quinxy