I’m writing this blog post, as I now always do, on my iPad. It’s a typical piece of technological brilliance by the man who co-founded the computer company I have been spellbound by since I was a boy, the man who ultimately led it to world domination, and who is now gone. I wasn’t surprised to hear Steve Jobs had died – when he retired from Apple it was clear the cancer had returned and wouldn’t go away again. My sadness at his passing though is based on two things: his premature death at a still youthful 56, and the terrible loss of a creative genius who changed everything. I have it on reliable authority that he was monstrous to work for, Apple on his watch had very little regard for the environment, and there are suicides of Chinese workers whose blood is very much on Jobs’ hands. I can’t forget either that the App Store is highly censorious, nor that the corporation’s product PR campaigns had most recently become so manipulative they’d almost lapsed into self-parody, and increasingly to the detriment of their customers.
Yet I am writing this on an iPad, some of you may read it on an iPhone or an iMac or MacBook, and pretty much all of you use iTunes now. I may talk about this post later on with my partner on FaceTime, and I’d like to invite as many of you as would like to come to an photography exhibition I’m taking part in later this month – all the photos were taken on iPhones. Jobs revolutionised music, film (Pixar was his baby), home & mobile computing, telephony, photography and countless other means by which we now relate to each other. Almost every aspect of the digital age you’re taking part in now had something to do with him. His detractors clearly make valid points, but I choose not to eulogise a person merely by the bad choices they made in their lives. He had blood on his hands, yes, but Steve Jobs also made countless people very happy indeed, and it wasn’t down to the self delusion often cited by his detractors (yet never really proven).
His Commencement address to Stanford University in 2005 has been widely quoted in the last couple of days. You can read the transcript here, and can see it all in the video at the top of this piece. I’d like to offer this quote:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
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. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Despite your failings, thanks Steve for bringing some joy and innovation to a disenchanted world.