"steve jobs" entries

Steve Jobs, Romantic

What it means to marry technology and the humanities.

“… the season
Wherein the spirits hold their wont to walk
the fruitful matrix of Ghosts …”

      — Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Steve Jobs died a year ago October 5th, and we can expect his ghost to appear in any number of recollections and assessments as the anniversary approaches.

I’d like to talk here about a spirit that Jobs carried within himself. It’s a spirit he relied on for inspiration, although he seemed at times to have lost track of its whisper. In any event, what it says can tell us a lot about our relationship to machines.

I refer to the spirit of Romanticism. I spent much of this past summer reading about the Romantics — the original Romantics, that is, of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries — and it’s remarkable how closely their most cherished beliefs correspond to principles that Jobs considered crucial to his success at Apple.

Intersection of technology and liberal arts sign from iPad 2 announcementWhat Apple does that other companies don’t, Jobs often said, is infuse the technologies it produces with human values. “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough,” he said during one of his famous product introductions. “We believe that it’s technology married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.”

Jobs can be forgiven for never getting very specific about what he meant by marrying technology to the humanities. It’s by definition a subject that’s hard to pin down, though not especially hard to understand. Basically he was saying that Apple’s products have soul and that people are attracted to those products because they can feel that soul, both consciously and unconsciously. These are things the Romantics thought about a lot.

That the creative artist can bring life to inanimate objects was a central conviction of the Romantic poets. (I’m speaking of the thrust of the Romantic movement in general; individuals within the movement disagreed on specific issues.) For them, the inanimate object in question was words; for Jobs, it was technology, but the basic point — that a work of art, properly executed, carries within it an invisible, living essence — was the same. Devoid of this essence, said Samuel Taylor Coleridge, what’s produced is as lifeless as the “cold jelly” of a corpse. Read more…

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Foxconn and Ford, Emerson and Jobs

Foxconn and Ford, Emerson and Jobs

Considering the karmic implications of the assembly line.

Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on "Compensation" was a source of inspiration for Henry Ford. It also affirms some of the cosmic truths Steve Jobs held dear.

Comments: 3
Apple's iTV and the implications of what Steve said

Apple's iTV and the implications of what Steve said

Why the rumors about Apple building a television are wrong.

Mark Sigal challenges the conventional wisdom about the rumored "iTV" and offers a much different prediction about an Apple-television marriage.

Comments: 4
Developer Week in Review: Early thoughts on iBooks Author

Developer Week in Review: Early thoughts on iBooks Author

The impact of iBooks Author, free vs usability, and Microsoft wants developers to level up.

It looks like Apple plans to totally disrupt yet another industry, but is that a good thing? Richard Stallman puts free above usability, and Microsoft adds incentives to Visual Studio — but some of them encourage the wrong behaviors.

Comments: 4
The price of greatness: Three takeaways from the biography of Steve Jobs

The price of greatness: Three takeaways from the biography of Steve Jobs

Thoughts on the scarcity of great leaders.

From the moment he got sick in 2003 to when he died in October of this year, Steve Jobs was never fully healthy again. Yet, Jobs led his team to a series of triumphs that have no equal in the annals of business. Mark Sigal explores what this says about Jobs as a leader and the price that greatness demands.

Comments: 21
Four short links: 21 November 2011

Four short links: 21 November 2011

Early Jobs, Personal Computing Sticks, Short-Sighted Profits, and Ford's Software Business

  1. Steve Jobs in Early NeXT Days (YouTube) — documentary footage of the early retreats at NeXT, where Jobs talks about plans and priorities. Very interesting to watch this knowing how the story ends. I’m astonished by how well Jobs spoke, even then, and delighted by the glimpses of impatience and dismissiveness. I wonder where the raw footage went. (via The Next Web)
  2. Cotton Candy Prototype — an Android-running computer on a USB stick. Plug it in, use the software on the stick to talk to the onboard OS, and you’re off. The ease of carrying your systems and data with you like this is the only long-term challenge I can see to the convenience of cloud storage of your digital life. For more details see Laptop Mag.
  3. Clayton Christensen on Short-Sighted Pursuit of Profits (Forbes) — love this quote from an overseas semiconductor manufacturer: You Americans measure profitability by a ratio. There’s a problem with that. No banks accept deposits denominated in ratios.
  4. Ford Just Became a Software Company (Information Week) — Ford are shipping memory sticks with software upgrades to the touchscreen computer in their cars. This is the future of manufacturing: your physical products will need software, which will for your business to have software competencies you haven’t begun to dream of. Business opportunity?
Comments: 2
Steve Jobs, the Unabomber, and America's love/hate relationship with technology

Steve Jobs, the Unabomber, and America's love/hate relationship with technology

Technological schizophrenia is an American tradition.

Steve Jobs and Ted Kaczynski represent the extreme poles of a deep-seated ambivalence in our attitudes toward technology. It's an ambivalence that's been a part of American history, and part of the American psyche, since the beginning.

Comments: 6
Four short links: 4 November 2011

Four short links: 4 November 2011

Science Repository, Dancing Robots, Retro Jobs, and Bluetooth Bow

  1. Beethoven’s Open Repository of Research (RocketHub) — open repository funded in a Kickstarter-type way. First crowdfunding project I’ve given $$$ to.
  2. KeepOff (GitHub) — open source project built around hacking KeepOn Interactive Dancing Robots. (via Chris Spurgeon)
  3. Steve Jobs One-on-One (ComputerWorld) — interesting glimpse of the man himself in an oral history project recording made during the NeXT years. I don’t need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why. But you do need a person. You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they’re not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don’t need an assistant.
  4. Bluetooth Violin Bow — this is awesome in so many directions. Sensors EVERYWHERE! I wonder what hackable uses it has …
Comments: 2
"Revolution in the Valley," revisited

"Revolution in the Valley," revisited

Andy Hertzfeld on the Macintosh's early days and its long-term legacy.

With "Revolution in the Valley" making its paperback debut and the work of Steve Jobs fresh in people's minds, we checked in with Andy Hertzfeld to discuss the legacy of the first Macintosh.

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A focus on the stuff that matters most

Steve Jobs shifted Apple's motivation to great products, not profit.

Profit in a business is like gas in a car. You don't want to run out of gas, but neither do you want to think that your road trip is a tour of gas stations.

Comments: 3