Thursday, October 6, 2011

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my Apple tree

Sometimes I take things for granted, we all do, in many aspects of our life; and technology is just one of them.  I can’t ignore, but don’t want to inundate anyone with news about the passing of the Steve Jobs, but it is something worth noting.  Words that are describing him now, in the wake of his passing: visionary, pioneer, courageous, you name it.  And who could deny those monikers?  They are well deserved.  He built something that was unthinkable, he did things people thought would fail because he hadn’t ‘done the research’ or couldn’t know what people wanted.  As someone who has worked in the Information Technology (computers) field my entire adult career (of over 10 years), I can honestly say that I hated Steve Jobs as I hated Bill Gates, but I could never have done my job adequately without either.

Before I was even born, Steve Jobs had already dropped out of college and started working on his idea, making a machine that was easy to use and functional.  Looking back, I can’t imagine where I would be, occupation-wise, without him.  He was the one that started the graphical user interface (GUI) in computers.  If it had been left to Bill Gates, we’d all be memorising code to this day.

What Steve Jobs did can’t be summarised in any eulogies or speeches.  People will try, just check the news sites and see the mass text and video that is appearing out of nowhere.  Like hungry vultures, the news sites finally have something of note to report back on.

But it is people like us, the gamers, computer geeks, regular folks that should take a moment and reflect on what Steve Jobs did to make our lives easier, crazier or fun.  If you had told me ten years ago Apple products would be as prevalent as they are, I would have told you that you’d lost your mind.  When I fist started studying technology, I knew what the Apple could do, but still considered it to be a graphics tool more than anything, something for the art students to use, but normal folks could continue to use the PC.  It did everything they needed.

I wasn’t wrong, but what Steve Jobs did was take his Apple computer concept and build on it in ways that others never would have thought of.  It started slowly, Mac books making appearances here and there, and then out of nowhere, we have the iPod.  I never bought one, I still don’t have one.  I’ve bought them as gifts, whether they are used or not, I couldn’t say.  But the idea, the very idea to be able to have that much music in a tiny little device was unfathomable in the early 2000s.  When I first saw it, I thought, ‘this is idiotic, who is going to buy this.’  And with a new iteration every few seconds, it seemed like a bad idea.

I’m big enough to admit I was wrong.  The iPod was just the beginning of the revolution.  In the decade that I took to my occupation, I saw major changes to the industry.  When I first started, the very idea of having Macs and PC’s in the same network was unheard of.  Today, we’re integrating desktops, laptops, blackberries and a variety of tablets into our everyday business.  None of this would be possible without Steve Jobs.

Even now I have the iPad, and for the love of God, I can’t figure out what to do with it, though all my friends are happily offering to take it off of my hands, I must admit that it is sleek, efficient, fast as all get-out and the design is maddeningly perfect.  I have resisted liking Apple products for years, but after winning my iPad, I knew I wanted an iPhone soon and would probably get the iPod at some point as well.  I knew it, the moment I started mucking around on it, I knew.  And that was what Steve Jobs did, he anticipated what people needed before they realised they needed it.

What is amazing about Jobs is that he dropped out of college, something most of us today would shudder at.  Every day I wonder, as I sit in my office, am I better of here, or is there another version of me, more successful, out there, that I could have been if I hadn’t bothered with quite so much education.  Looking at stories like Jobs’, it makes me very uncertain.  It isn’t always about the book learning that gets you where you are.  And for a man to be the proponent of thinking outside the box, in every sense of the word, without a true degree is unreal, but there it is.

Think back, ten years ago, did you ever think smart phones would be where they are today?  Would you have guessed that the iTunes would be a common site you visited?  So many things Steve Jobs pioneered, made relevant, made versatile, made valuable.  It wasn’t that he created these things from nothing, but he improved upon ideas, stood on the shoulders of giants, and made things larger, reached more audiences, enhanced people’s every day life.

Steve Jobs wasn’t perfect, he had many ideas that never came to fruition, but what made him stand out, what made him impact and change all of our lives was the simple fact that he was a dreamer.  When I heard of his passing, it immediately made me think of Jim Henson.  While a puppeteer isn’t quite the same as the CEO for a computer company, they both achieved similar things – they weren’t quelled by what was right or how things should be done, they dreamed something and made it so.  There aren’t enough dreamers in the world, and we lost a great one last night, and I’ll be hard pressed to find another dreamer like Jobs to materialise again any time soon.

‘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. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.’ –Steve Jobs, 2005

The title is a quote from the late Martin Luther King Jr.


  1. Deep thoughts from a Pokemon. And thank you for the Cantaloupe warning, that's why I avoid eating fruit altogether, if it ain't processed, I am not going there : )

  2. I have my moments ;) and yes those Killer Kantaloupes are everywhere!