8: Steve Jobs

by: Walter Isaacson

Who knew that this would be an emotional book for me?

I am sure how I felt at the end of the book, and how many pieces of tissues I used to wipe tears as I read about Steve and his children would have changed if he were still alive today. But I can’t help but feel an immeasurable sadness for someone that I have never met before, and have had disdainful feelings for.

I picked up this book nearing the end of 2011 as I felt like this was one of the defining pieces of work of 2011. And I finished it a few days after January.

I have always felt that Steve was a rash and selfish person, the products that he created were beautiful and easy to use, but at the same time created conformity and an elitist circle to those that weren’t using it.

This was just how I felt. But a while back I sat down and watched the keynote speech when he revealed the iphone. And it was magical, and it was charismatic and I fell in love with the iphone and then I went and bought an HTC android phone.

Sure, he charmed me for a while on stage, but somehow, buying an iphone was going along with a trend, and i really couldn’t allow that.

It’s a strange phenomenon but after reading this book, I got to know Steve, I got to know a lot about Steve. And as the biographer asked Steve why he wanted this to be written, he answered that it was as much as it was for his children as it was for any other reason. I felt misty when I read that and I found myself unexpectedly tearful again.

When Steve Jobs passed away, I treated it with the sort of sadness that was it was with any other celebrity. I found out on twitter (while I was in China) then I felt shocked, I immediately told someone, who was my father in the kitchen. Then I began to scroll through tweets and searched (as much as it was possible in China) about the news. It shocked me, because it really came out of nowhere (though I knew a bit about his cancer) and then it was over.

Because I didn’t know him. It was easy to create this shell of what he was like and the things that he did that may have or may not have been misrepresented. Of course you could easily call me naive for believing in the tone of the book that of course, would be, mostly pro-steve. But it was also because I really confounded a lot of the things that he did, included but not limited to, yelling at people, believing in people and products, swearing, rashness and extreme personality. I also really enjoyed it when the biographer said that he was an opinionated eater instead of the less euphemistic title of a picky eater (which is what I’m called often). thanks, I’m going to start telling people that. Because I took seek for perfection in my meals.

Though I’m not a foodie, I couldn’t finish the french onion soup that was served to me today.

It was a very satisfying read, and as someone who was at an age where I was most passionately aware of everything that was going on with new technology, I really appreciated Steve’s presence and what he brought to technology. Him and his team’s ideas and designs were indeed intuitive.

I watched a documentary a while back that was about Dieter Ram’s designs that design should be as if it weren’t designed. The example that was used was that if you use a toothbrush, it should be as natural as possible. If it was a bad toothbrush, you would notice right away but if it were a good toothbrush, you would be able to go on with your day without having to give it a second thought.

And though I don’t own an iphone or an ipad (i have an ipod touch and an old ipod nano), they are incredibly intuitive. So much so that when my mom told me that she wanted a smart phone, that she wouldn’t have minded to inherit my current one. But i told her i’d definitely buy her an iphone just because it was so much easier to use. Although i love my android and its widgets i could definitely see myself going for an iphone next.

the writing was the most basic sort of writing that was possible. because it was a biography, what was important was the content and the stories that shone through rather than the extensive use of prose. I bet it was hell trying to organize all the interviews and information in a coherent order that relied on timeline but not exclusively so for the book. i definitely applaud the author on that effort.

So in conclusion: I highly recommend it, you’ll learn a lot about him (of course) and yourself, and design and management and innovation and everything that steve jobs was supposed to embody as a leader. I am sad that i didn’t pay more attention while he was alive. i am also extremely sad that he is no longer around. There are a lot of large personal faults that he possesses but so many strengths too. Like people on earth, there are a lot of things that you could learn from each and everyone of them. And i think from this book, i really learned that.

Below are a few passages that i found amusing, no page numbers because i had a digital copy of the book.

That spring Larry Ellison saw Amelio at a party and introduced him to the technology journalist Gina Smith, who asked how Apple was doing. “You know, Gina, Apple is like a ship,” Amelio answered. “That ship is loaded with treasure, but there’s a hole in the ship. And my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction.” Smith looked perplexed and asked, “Yeah, but what about the hole?” From then on, Ellison and Jobs joked about the parable of the ship. “When Larry relayed this story to me, we were in this sushi place, and I literally fell off my chair laughing,” Jobs recalled. “He was just such a buffoon, and he took himself so seriously. He insisted that everyone call him Dr. Amelio. That’s always a warning sign.”

At another point, when VLSI Technology was having trouble delivering enough chips on time, Jobs stormed into a meeting and started shouting that they were “fucking dickless assholes.” The company ended up getting the chips to Apple on time, and its executives made jackets that boasted on the back, “Team FDA.”

Jobs told me over breakfast the next morning. “We put iTunes on Windows in order to sell more iPods. But I don’t see an advantage of putting our music app on Android, except to make Android users happy. And I don’t want to make Android users happy.”

few days later Toy Story 3 opened. Jobs had nurtured this Pixar trilogy from the beginning, and the final installment was about the emotions surrounding the departure of Andy for college. “I wish I could always be with you,” Andy’s mother says. “You always will be,” he replies.

Posted: January 5th, 2012
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS, QUOTES
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