|Re: R.I.P. Steve Jobs 1955-2011|
Message #20 Posted by Howard Owen on 7 Oct 2011, 6:05 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by aj04062
Others have noted how remarkable it is that most of us feel comfortable calling Mr. Jobs "Steve." Lots of theories have been advanced to explain this. I just think it's down to how he made you feel he was listening to you, and that he shared your enthusiasms. You get both messages loud and clear when using the products he conceived.
I saw Steve Jobs face-to-face just once. He was at a SunWorld conference plugging NeXTStep. (It must have been in 1993, because that's when NeXTStep 3.1 was shipped, which featured Sun SPARC/Solaris support.) He gave a dazzling keynote speech regarding the technology. It was the best dog-and-pony show I've ever seen. Later, I wandered near him in the exhibits. I wish I had spoken to him then. I didn't partly because I had some old resentments. I was a starving student when the Macintosh came out. I owned an Apple //e which I bought on time with my father cosigning the loan. I had no prospect of owning a Mac, so that colored my thinking about them. I felt put upon that the price of a Mac was so high. I ended up with an Amiga because I hated PCs too, but that's another story. I was also down on NeXT since my University admin days. They tended to be hard to centrally manage despite the wonderful tools available to do so. It was a political thing. NeXT workstations were bought by professors who wanted out of central system management, but who nonetheless expected support. None of that was NeXT's fault. I certainly wanted one myself. Nonetheless, those thoughts colored my perception of Steve Jobs at that conference.I had irrational reasons to resent him. Alas, I'm not always rational. (I flatter myself that irrationality was a symptom of inexperienced youth and that I'm better now. My rational mind tells me that's probably not so true as I'd like. :) The other reason I didn't speak up was that I was starstruck. But I did get a chance to watch him dazzle suits and geeks without slipping a gear. The breadth of his repertoire was astounding. His interactions were fluid and intuitive. He left people smiling because he understood them. He took that understanding and used it to paint a picture of the future that was challenging, fascinating and, above all, cool.
I think the traits that made him one of the most potent salesmen of the 20th and 21st centuries were the same ones that lead us to call him "Steve" now. The unalloyed vision that speaks so loudly from Apple's products challenges and fascinates us. Those products are personal, intimate even. They track our enthusiasms and lead us on to better ones. They are, above all else, cool. Looking under the hood a bit reveals some troubling aspects of Steve Job's vision and approach, to me at least. But it's sad the voice behind those visions is now quiet. The world won't have quite as much cool post-Steve. Someone else, or many someone elses, will have to carry it on.