Duncan Cooper spends a lot of time on the internet. Every month, he pays tribute to the hours spent with
original video and audio a short essay. Today he celebrates the life of Steve Jobs, who died yesterday at the age of 56.
Next month will be the tenth anniversary of the iPod. At FADER we're able to share what we love with you because there's a place in your pocket or in your backpack or your bedroom to put it. Steve Jobs' vision for communication hinged on making people happy directly, to use industrial design to make the world easier for them to take in and easier to share. As people who like learning and who like feelings, and as people who like making stuff and seeing what our friends make, we're better off because of him. Below is Apple's 1997 "Crazy Ones" ad, narrated by Jobs himself. "Glorify or vilify them, about the only thing they can't do is ignore them, because they change things," he says, over ranks of heroes like Thomas Edison and Martin Luther King. "They push the human race forward."
It's complicated working out Jobs' place in a paradigm as problematic as this—What does it mean to align these people side by side? Gandhi and Ted Turner aren't the same, and it's not clear that forward is the direction they were both always pushing. The story of Apple Inc. is as much about making people happy as it is convincing them that converting finite mineral resources into planned-obsolete consumables is a good idea. One of the world's largest publicly traded companies has no public corporate giving strategy, in part because Jobs shut down all Apple philanthropic programs in 1997, the same year as that video. To Jobs' credit, in the grand scheme of billionaires, he seems not to have used his personal wealth to influence social detriment in the style of so many other rich Americans. But whether in terms of inventing personal computers or cranking out popular gadgets or realigning media industries and popularly rewriting how information travels, Jobs exerted his vision irrepressibly.
None of this is new, but Jobs' passing feels like a moment worth marking. It's impossible imagining the present without his hand in it. Looking forward, something is going to happen with the financial accumulation of one of the world's wealthiest men, and that something could be important. Maybe that thing will help beat cancer. In 2005, Jobs gave a commencement address at Stanford (video is here). Speaking candidly, he said:
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…
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.
We don't need to make everyone a hero, and that's not what we should all try to be either. Wired.com collected a bunch of appreciative quotes and little eulogies, and it's remarkable to see the breadth of influential people uniting their brains in praise. The reality is Steve Jobs made his presence felt, and it's reassuring to know there are people who can make the world different. Imagine if you could touch people doing something you love.
P.S. I didn't know where to put this, but it's devastating.