I’m not much for mourning. Truth is, I tend to take the cosmic view that we’re just a bunch of worthless meat-sacks that occupy a cooling lava rock with an incredibly random collection of evolutionary circumstances that keep us ahead of our ever-impending extinction. We’re always just one meteor strike shy of going the way of the dinosaur. Someone dies. Yes, and…
But with Steve Jobs I feel like I’ve been witness to the life of a historical figure that rivals the greatest that have ever occupied the planet. To me, Steve actually helped to make it worthwhile to live on this rock. He fused the realms of work and leisure into a holistic life, fueled by innovation in the exciting world of computing technology. He dared to analyze the way humans interact with themselves, each other, things – and decided to change it by enlisting some of the greatest minds of our time to simply make life better. Thousands of years from now (if the meteor hasn’t hit yet) people (or whatever evolves [x-men] or devolves [tea party] next as the dominant beings) will remember Mr. Jobs singularly. When you weed out the riff raff of potential historical potent potables spanning the centuries that comprise the American Empire, I believe that the legacy of Apple Computer and the era of Steve Jobs will be at the top of a short list of those that have profoundly had an unquestionable affect on the course of humanity.
This may sound like extreme fanboyism. I’ll allow myself such extremities. If there is one avenue that I have traveled without falter over the last 25 years, it is my unswerving dedication to all things Apple. I can proudly say that since 1985 I have not used any other brand of computer as my primary instrument of work and pleasure than an Apple. I have owned Plus, II, SE, Classic, Quadra, Powerbook, Powerbook Duo, LC, PowerMac, Power Macintosh, G3, G4, DV, iMac Colors, iMac DV, iMac Soccer Ball, iMac Silver, iBook, Mac Mini, Macbook Air, MacBook Pro, iPod, iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4, Nano, Shuffle, Touch, AppleTV, iPad (yes, Newton is missing – so sue me). I have never had a friend, business colleague or family member that I did not attempt to convert to the Apple world (and was successful in most cases – finally Dad!). The dirty little secret that I held in my judgement of people was that if you weren’t a Mac person, you weren’t getting it. Life, as defined by PC or Mac, was the neatest little compartment I could use, above all others: Democrat or Republican, Jew or Goy, Star Wars or Star Trek, Cagney or Lacey…When I met someone new, if I determined they used Macs, we were immediately simpatico.
The passing of Steve, in itself, isn’t terribly shocking. He’s been sick for years. We’ve had time to prepare. His resignation last month was a clear indication that he received the news: your time has come. He was smart enough to step down and take his final days to pass the torch, as best he could. We should have been more prepared. But yesterday hit me, and billions of others, like a ton of bricks. Why were we so affected? I think the world took a collective gasp, not for what we will miss about Steve Jobs as he lived, but more for what we will miss about Steve Jobs had he continued to live.
What saddens me most, and I think I can speak for the billions, is that the work of Mr. Jobs isn’t done (as the iPhone 4S clearly shows). The next äppärät that changes the world is now left in the hands of lesser beings. As much as I don’t want to succumb to such reverence, I look around at the other lifestyle brands in the world and I’m actually scared. Over the past 30 years, so few companies have been able to create anything close to a product with the same impact as this one company, headed by this one man…
But hope does exist. One of the greatest emotions I experienced yesterday was a surge of enthusiasm for what I could personally do to emulate the vision of Steve Jobs and change my own little slice of the world. With the passing of Steve, I was able to finally bottle my reverence for the man and determine to put it to use in whatever path I choose to travel (drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid). I shared this with my friend who is living in Bali, trying to make his own changes, and I realized that this could be viral. He too had the same thoughts and feelings. Apparently, people around the world are processing the death of their hero by capturing some of his essence and applying it to their lives. Go figure.
So as we move into a Post-Steve era, I will remain optimistic. Apple will continue with the minds that Steve approved. They probably have a life-cycle of at least 5 years of products that Steve green-lighted before he passed. There’s more to come. But moreover, perhaps there’s a spark, a light, some vision, that has passed on to the masses that will lead to the next era of innovation. Maybe Apple’s stranglehold of superiority in industrial design, human interface and problem-solving-through-technology will find its way into the soul of a generation of entrepreneurs, visionaries and super-industrialists? Maybe we can stand on our own two feet, learn from the master and change the world ourselves. Maybe Steve’s greatest legacy is actually…us? Genius.