Almost 2 years ago, Steve Jobs died. Today, I closed the end cover of his biography, completing the story over the course of about a week.
When the book was published, I imagined that it was a book that I would never read. I read iWoz many years ago, and through other books and articles, have a pretty complete understanding of his life, philosophy and asshole-ness. I’ve always been partial to the other Steve; the genius engineer archetype was always a role model that I admired and held up on a pedestal. The people who makes things and change the world by sheer brute force of intellectual prowess.
There was a time when I felt really lost. On a whim, I ordered a copy of the book over the Internet, used no less. The first page contained a beautiful handwritten note wishing the recipient a great Christmas. The book looks untouched; I grimaced in amusement.
I shall spare a book review, for there are probably more of them out there than I can ever read. On a technical note though, prose flows well without much embellishment. The words are used mainly to recount the tale of an exciting and extremely excitable man, and it works very well in that regards. The language disappears within the story, content over chrome.
A few notes that stood out to me:
The most memorable quote was actually from Alan Kay. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
One can get his way around the world mostly by trying to get his way, but may end up burning loads of bridges. The interesting corollary to this is that not all relationships are built on niceties and kindness. While Steve was indeed a great asshole, perhaps magnified much more on the pages, he did eventually gather a bunch of people who are personally sympathetic, empathetic and loyal to him.
It reminds me of the Alec Baldwin scene from Glengarry Glen Ross and the resulting emotional response from the audience. I don’t yet understand the fundamental difference in why it invokes the range of emotions it invokes.
It reinvigorated my appreciation for abstract thinking. Focused abstract thinking. Understanding and expressing the essence, theme and motif is fundamental in creating works that can stand the test of time.
An expression is in it’s very core a human expression, and a function of time and circumstances. It is funny how unscientific but true the very idea of human resonance exists in all of us.
The best designers, artists in the world are those who have discovered a voice of his or her own. They become almost unapologetic about what they represent, and seek to create works that embraces their voice in all shapes and form.
Focus and clarity is one of the most important things that one can bring to a project. When reflecting upon myself, I realized how distracted I often am, even when a project started off with a clear and well articulated basis. There is a discipline in bringing in laser like focus and pruning off items and ideas which are irrelevant to the cause.
And lastly, it really brings home the point that there is really no one right way to anything. Steve was almost the antithesis of your every man, and violated almost all known form of human social conditioning, but ends up being deeply admired from near and afar. There is something to be said for being consistent in Principles, but flexible in Execution.
The rest was a gripping tale, about a man who understood the value of his life and his views, and worked with the fervor of a devil to accomplish it. Fervor of a devil indeed.