Driving into work, I was listening to John Markoff (on NPR) talk about Steve Jobs. It’s pretty difficult to get away from the innovator’s passing. Witnessing the stream of articles, memorials, re-tweets, and posts sprawling through the virtual landscape, it was inevitable writing about it today.
Jobs passing reminds me that 30/40 something year olds fall into a very interesting place in technological history. He was a visionary with a relentless pursuit of improving and changing the world. He succeeded in his quest. As I think back to when we had mixtapes, used slambooks instead of Facebook and Tumblr; before Friendster, Tribe, MySpace, and Twitter, there were gargantuan mobile phones, tons of wires running along my parent’s living room floor, and dial-up. I wrote stories and played games in my grammar school computer lab using an Apple Macintosh. Growing up, Jobs along with other technologists, collectively, worked to connect the world. As an adult, it’s a bit mind-boggling to see the rapid growth and cross-pollination of the arts and technology. Much of this due to the past 30+ years of advancements in computing, programming, and people around the world innovating through connection. Jobs was definitely one of the original connectors.
Death is tragic no matter what form (yes, even the Darwin Awards make me sad but happy that the gene pool is a tad bit cleaner, it may sound awful but you know you agree) but it is the only certainty we have in life. As much as Jobs changed the face of technology and innovated change, he was also (very) human. I think most people in the tech industry find his death a bit jarring not only because of his age (56 years old is rather young) and his terminal illness but because he forged a path in a multitude of industries (i.e., music, digital media, arts, etc.) and accomplished quite a bit in his life. Yet, with the ability to be rather venomous to those that failed him (i.e., team behind MobileMe) or generous to a stranger with pancreatic cancer seeking advice from Jobs (and Jobs recommending his physician), he was, above everything, a human being. He was just like you and me.
The difference: He worked really hard and probably learned and processed from his mistakes (a lot more quickly than most). He was himself and knew what he wanted out of life.
R.I.P. Steve Jobs