Rebel of the Week: Steve JobsOctober 12th, 2011
Last week, the tech community and the entire country mourned the passing of a truly visionary leader, product evangelist, and artist: Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs. For revolutionary innovation in multiple fields of human action, for creating unparalleled synergies between different human paradigms, for founding and growing one of the most valuable companies in the entire world, for creating untold thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth, for connecting people around the world more than ever before, for giving us all an easier, more powerful way to share our stories and experiences with each other, for doing it all by means of hard work and voluntary interaction, unleashing the potential of the human spirit without the whips or fetters of a centrally-controlled economy: the late Steve Jobs is this Rebel of the Week.
As Gizmodo said of Steve Jobs in its obituary:
“He made the computer personal, and the smartphone fun. Bill Gates may have put a computer on every office desk, but it was Steve Jobs who put one in every dorm room and bedroom and living room. And then, years later, he repeated the trick, putting one in every bag and every pocket, thanks to the iPad and iPhone. If you use a computer or smartphone today, it is either one he created, or an imitation of his genius.
He changed the way movies are made, the way music is sold, the way stories are told, the very way we interact with the world around us. He helped us work, and gave us new ways to play. He was a myth made man.
Prior to Steve Jobs, computers were alien to most of us. They were accessible to few people without an engineering degree. Not merely because of their complex operating procedures, but also because they were so cold and so inhuman. Jobs understood that they could be something more than that. That while computers would never be people, he could endow them with humanity.”
This kind of innovation is only possible to people who “Think different,” who go against the grain of conventional wisdom, and prevailing paradigms. It takes a true rebel, and a rebel Jobs was to the very core of his personality. Could you imagine a heavily regulated market for computers and cellphones ever producing the kind of ideas and products that Apple has produced? Do you imagine Jobs could have competed in an environment where the government, with the best intentions of fostering growth in those markets, rewarded Jobs’ failing, but well-connected competitors with unlimited subsidies and bailouts, all courtesy of the printing press?
Even Steve Jobs’ drug use says something about his rebel personality (Disclaimer: this is not an endorsement of recreational drug use, merely a commentary on Steve Jobs and how this aspect of his life exemplifies his rebellious personality.). In a society that has deeply stigmatized the use of illegal drugs, Jobs surprisingly says that his LSD use was a major factor in his success. The New York Times obituary for Steve Jobs says:
“[Jobs] told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.”
Glenn Greenwald remarks:
“America’s harsh prohibitionist drug policies are grounded in the premise that the prohibited substances have little or no redeeming value and cannot be used without life-destroying consequences. Yet the evidence of its falsity is undeniable. Here is one of the most admired men in America, its greatest contemporary industrialist, hailing one of the most scorned of these substances as integral to his success and intellectual and personal growth.”
One little-known fact about Steve Jobs illustrates just how wide his accomplishments reach: in the 1980s, he acquired a small computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd from George Lucas, and it was renamed Pixar Animation Studios. Steve Jobs was an executive producer of Pixar‘s first full-length animated presentation, Toy Story, which revolutionized animation and cinema forever… a fact that might be of particular interest to readers of this blog and fans of the upcoming animated film, Silver Circle.
Steve Jobs will be remembered and he will be missed.