Whereas it is tempting to join the effusive chorus of eulogy for Steve Jobs, one cannot be taken aback by the degree of saintliness people attribute to this man these days.
Please excuse my (non-trivial) carping, but it is not “Jobs’ technology” — the true electronics genius behind Apple’s product is Steve Wozniak, the other co-founder of Apple, who is utterly unknown to the general public yet ardently revered among computer specialists. Steve Jobs is a brilliant salesman — this only an ignoramus can dispute — yet it is equally ill-informed to laud him to this godly degree, as if he were the sole source of Apple’s success.
Furthermore — what about Apple’s success? Is it even so laudable? Dennis Ritchie — the inventor of C programming language and the godfather of modern programming — died today without an iota of public recognition. Bill Gates — who dedicates his life to eradicate malaria and rescue America’s public school system — is never regarded with the same awe and reverence as the saintly Steve Jobs commands. (“Bill Gates? He’s a rich guy” — that’s all we think.)
Why is that? Because Apple’s products “transform” our lives? How much of a consumerist (dare I say, hedonist?) have we become to regard a consumer product as “transforming”, as “revolutionary”, while philanthropic work and basic science research are not held with commensurate esteem? How saddening it is that we now hold iPod dearer than public service, and iPhone cooler than the basic research that makes it possible in the first place.
(Not to mention that Steve Jobs’ career is pretty much a series of dick moves. In their early, poor, college-drop-out days, Jobs got $5,000 for developing a game, paid Wozniak $375 to do it, and kept the rest secret from his “friend.” He cancelled all Apple’s philanthropic works as soon as he assumed leadership. And he jumped the line for his liver transplant thanks to his stand-by private jet, which allowed him to register in multiple states. The loophole has since been closed.)
Am I a nitpicking alarmist? Perhaps. (Really, I don’t think so 😀 — that’s just soothing rhetoric). Steve Jobs himself is not even the issue, but only a case to demonstrate the rage-inducing gullibility of the public. (Sure enough, he is a great strategist and presenter–that fact is in no way tarnished by the farce of mindless reverence everyone heaps on him now.)
I guess misguidedness just irritates me. A lot.