I have to admit, I’m a little ambivalent about the death of Steve Jobs. If I am honest though, it hurts a little. It hurts a little when great people pass on, never to conqueror again what they had conquered, never to achieve again what they had achieved. For us, the peons, never to witness that level of greatness again is a bit bitter.
In my case, it’s strange, because I don’t use Apple products. I don’t like them. I don’t like Steve Jobs. I don’t like his company. I don’t like his business practices or caged computing environment. I personally have stayed away from Apple and Microsoft products completely. I don’t have any grand hatred toward either, but I do value the freedom to tinker, and to control where and how I create what I create. Way back in 1999, I swore it was the last time that I would have some proprietary piece of software tell me where and when I could install it and what I could do with it. And that was that.
So why feel even a twinge of sadness at the passing of Steve Jobs? He fabricated products I don’t use and restricted people’s freedom to create pushing them more toward mindless consumption. Perhaps, it’s our little monkey brains, terrified and mesmerized by the strength of one of our own, a brutal conqueror who was able to accomplish something no one else had. Steve Jobs was ruthless, driven, ambitious, and intelligent. He did not suffer fools, nor anyone. His company conquered a particular consumer computing space thoroughly and completely.
Alexander the Great? Great because he killed a whole bunch of people? Yoda: Wars not make one great. Genghis Khan, Gen Patton. We worship them, revere them simply for their ability to ruthlessly conqueror and lay waste with efficiency in a way no one else has done before.
Sure, let’s not get carried away. Steve Jobs is no Genghis Khan, but his greatness is familiar in that sense. He had a vision for a part of this world that he felt he owned, and he shaped it, and nothing got in his way, not people, not money, not technology.
So, props, Steve. You did it your way. You were great in what you did. I know why people worship you, but just shake my head. I don’t think, in the end, your vision was the right vision. Sure you and Apple made a lot of money, but I think you missed the point of the future envisioned by your 1984 self.