Steve Jobs

I read his biography. I am struck by a few things:

1. We really venerate him in nerd circles, but he was in many ways not a good person. I mean that he was not skillful at creating a good life. And the really striking thing is that a lot of his failings just seem so childish!

2. I’m sold on Apples again. (I mean, before reading the book.) My next computer will be a Mac. The thing that I keep getting convinced of is that, to build a good product in this world, you need one person to own it. Maybe there can be about two other people working on it too. The more people get added to a project (at least, the more people that make design decisions) the dumber it gets.

3. We both went to India. Times change. Back then you could visit “the guru of most of the hippie movement.” I guess back then you also could more easily get dysentery. Places like Manali and Nainital were kinda unknown, not busy holiday spots. Also, back then you also didn’t have an internet connection, and you couldn’t be, say, blogging while you’re on vacation.

That’s the mildly worrying thing: I don’t know if I’ll ever find a place so remote, either physically or internet-ly. I wonder if I’m missing something.

4. “Sculley confided that on vacations he went to the Left Bank in Paris to draw in his sketchbook; if he hadn’t become a businessman, he would be an artist. Jobs replied that if he weren’t working with computers, he could see himself as a poet in Paris.”
Come on! Dear world, get some new artistic ideals! There are other creative places besides Paris! And there are other creative people besides artists!

5. “I think the issue is empathy- the capacity for empathy is lacking.” I wonder if he’d be diagnosed as a psychopath. (hmm… wikipedia says no psychiatric organization authorizes a diagnosis of psychopathy.)

6. Jobs to Rupert Murdoch: “You’re blowing it with Fox News. The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people.”
Right on! Not only about Fox News in particular, but about a constructive-destructive axis in the world. It’s not always PC to point it out, but sometimes some people are genuinely working to build up and some are tearing down.


Julia -

The word psychopath is not used, but the basic diagnosis still exists - it’s called antisocial personality disorder :-)

And I’m not saying that I disagree on the good-person-bad-person front, but how many of us are in all ways a good person?

Dan -

Fair enough. But if we’re going to idolize someone, he should be. Or at least not have such glaring flaws. I’m thinking here of abandoning his first kid, occasional backstabby business deals, manipulation of folks like John Sculley, seemingly random tantrums at employees- the guy managed like a four year old.

Just that this guy made great business happen, but doesn’t seem to be a guy you should model your life after.

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