Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Thanks, Steve. For everything.

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  • Sacha, in reply to chris,

    we all owe him
    platitudes.

    would you please just take direction from this blog's owner about what tone is appropriate. no one thinks you're smart or funny.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    We were ahead of our time in rural New Zealand.

    Certainly. I was going for 'irrational' as you brought the word in - "2 without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment." We all grieve in our own ways JacksonP. Speaking for myself, I love heroes. PAS is populated by my heroes, people who show real compassion but aren't afraid to call out a spade. The world is not egalitarian, and PAS answers that call in a beautiful way. But it is for who you are not what you do that I love you*. And that's an important distinction.

    Who are we remembering? A person or a list of products. It's relevant. Steve Jobs wasn't involved with the development of the LC 575, it was created by the company he founded 8 years after they fired him. For me, the Steve Jobs greatest truism was:

    My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.

    *especially you Sacha.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    [Redacted]
    Everyone else seems to have gone for a beer. I might too.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2070 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Now I know who Matt Smith's Doctor is based on
    Bow ties are cool...

    and travelling back a year in time... the dating game

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4199 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Jobs was a significant figure in industrial design, turning mere electronic devices into objects of desire. It's hard to say what he actually invented though beyond an incredibly appealing brand. The crucial technology and the actual design was always the work of other people, like Wozniak, Ives, Raskin, Tesler, the PARC crew, Frog Design, BSD, Mach, yadda yadda. As far as I can tell, what Jobs brought to it was superb taste and a singular ability to yell at the right people the right way to do things he personally could not.

    The very things that typify his approach to computing and built the brand are also philosophically repellent to me. At one level, as so many in this thread testify, his design vision enabled creativity, at others it has locked down and restricted it.

    I find the hagiographical tone for another domineering CEO a bit much to take. Chris' comments may be in poor taste but Apple and Jobs' brand values are definitely in conflict with the realities of high-tech manufacturing among other things. When can we step back and assess the Jobs reputation as a whole if not now?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    The crucial technology and the actual design was always the work of other people, like Wozniak, Ives, Raskin, Tesler, the PARC crew, Frog Design, BSD, Mach, yadda yadda. As far as I can tell, what Jobs brought to it was superb taste and a singular ability to yell at the right people the right way to do things he personally could not.

    Well, yeah. Exactly. But there's a whiff of faint praise there.

    Susan Kare, the artist who created most of the original Mac typefaces and the key interface elements of the operating system, said this about working with Jobs:

    He was running Apple when I met him, but he was interested in the Macintosh at every level. It seemed to me that he was a person capable of making meaningful contributions in hardware, software, advertising, icons, fonts. Sure, he's a well-known and controversial figure, but I had a lot of respect for him because I never knew anybody who had such a broad band of ability to contribute good ideas in many realms. Not that every single idea was The Idea, or the best idea, or even good, or that he wouldn't listen to others. I think he definitely has a style of pushing back and being critical, to push you to see if you had explored every option. I remember him as great to work with, being excited over things that were new that we had done that we could show him, and it being a very motivating factor, because when he's happy and pleased with an idea he can make you feel great.

    Because no matter how big you make the room, a room full of technologists is unlikely to deliver you a great product, let alone a series of them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Russell Brown,

    there's a whiff of faint praise there.

    More than a whiff and more than faint, I hope. Some artists need impresarios.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I find the hagiographical tone for another domineering CEO a bit much to take. Chris’ comments may be in poor taste but Apple and Jobs’ brand values are definitely in conflict with the realities of high-tech manufacturing among other things.

    I’m glad you put it that way. Daisey’s scathing response to any attempt to assess the Apple-Foxconn-suicide-factory narrative isn’t very helpful. He just declares the Chinese government’s national suicide rate statistics “unreliable”, but Auckland University’s Statistics blog examined a range of data and concluded that the suicide rate among employees at Foxconn Shenzhen was indeed lower than that that of the general population.

    And it’s five times lower than the suicide rate at France Telecom, which saw 46 suicides in 30 months.

    As far as I can tell there have been three suicides among about 450,000 workers at Foxconn Shenzhen this year (the place is basically a city). This improvement may be a result of both external and internal pressure on the company (20 Chinese universities collaborated on a withering report on working conditions) or simply because the 2009 cluster was an anomaly.

    This isn’t to say Foxconn is a great place to work – at the bottom of the ladder is clearly is not. But to focus only Apple and even only on Foxconn seems to be to miss the point in quite a serious way.

    Daisey also seem to have a touching faith in the value of taking manufacturing back to the US – which, in the food industry anyway, permits hideous employment practices.

    As he points out, the cost of assembly is a relatively small part of the price of your new gadget, but Apple, Nokia, Sony, HP, Intel, Microsoft etc use Foxconn not only because of its pricing but the sheer scale and speed with which it can produce things.

    When can we step back and assess the Jobs reputation as a whole if not now?

    ’Bout now, I reckon. Hopefully without drive-by snark.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Chris' comments may be in poor taste

    Calling honestly-expressed personal recollections "platitudes" is downright rude.

    Slagging someone on the day they died is not good form in anyone's book. Basic human respect. The Standard had a thread of snarking from the get-go if anyone was desperate to show off their alienation or cynical hipster cred.

    A couple of days later, bring on the challenging viewpoints by all means.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    As Hiroko Tabuchi said on Twitter: "A man who inspired many died young from cancer, and people are mourning. That's not hagiography."

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I find both the inspiration lacking and the subsequent mourning a bit misplaced. (Jack Elder reports seeing three actual memorial tattoos already. No doubt there are more). I accept that I'm out of step with the majority, and perhaps the problem lies with me, but it's all a bit Princess Diana to me. "Thank you" Post-It notes on the Apple Store window? Weird. When the tributes are so uncritical, I think the charge of hagiography stands.

    Addendum: will people feel like this when Larry Ellison dies? Why not?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Who is Larry Ellison?
    Genuine question.
    I havent heard of him before.
    And I think “when the tributes are so uncritical”
    is simply false.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    it's all a bit Princess Diana to me

    puhleeze

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Islander,

    Who is Larry Ellison?

    Another IT leader. Probably most widely known in this land for his America's Cup involvement.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    O.
    Thank you Sacha-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    "Thank you" Post-It notes on the Apple Store window? Weird.

    Well, most people aren't doing that, but like other many other initial responses I would describe it as a personal reaction because of something that changed their lives that was made by Jobs via Apple. As a personal expression, particularly to do with a product that went through a phase where the advertising was "Here's to the crazy ones", it may well seem a bit weird to you, but that's OK.
    And no Ellison won't. Most people don't have a personal interaction with Oracle databases, and those that have would not describe it as happy memories.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 824 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I know a lot of Apple devotees, and I’ve often felt slightly uncomfortable with the levels of devotion they show.

    Last time I replaced my computer I opted to get another PC for reasons of value-for-money, and it’s a good machine. Windows 7 is a brainy and responsive OS, light years ahead of XP. It’s good to use, it does what I need it to.

    But I get a thrill every time I use my iPod touch.

    User-centred design is exciting and pleasant to use. And for those of us who use our computers a lot, there is a real difference between a workhorse which just does the job, and one that seems to know what we want and magically provide it. I totally get the sense of personal attachment people have to their Apple gadgets.

    And I also get why so many people are taking Jobs’ death so personally. He’s changed the daily lives of so many people in a positive way. And without Apple raising the bar for usability I doubt Windows would have been forced to get its act together. So we can all be grateful for that.

    (Such an irony that, as Russell said, Apple mice are so rubbish! :-)

    But all-in-all, quite a legacy. We all should be so lucky.

    Jobs obviously was a wealthy industrialist and I know that pisses some people off, they want other sorts of people for their heroes, and fair enough. But surely there’s room for more than one kind of hero?*

    *and not all of them have to play sports, either. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Lilith __,

    Windows 7 is a brainy and responsive OS, light years ahead of XP. It’s good to use, it does what I need it to.

    This. It's far more amenable to mobo swaps than XP ever was - I made my latest major upgrade only last week.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3896 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to DeepRed,

    Last night I did a file-rescue operation on a failing external drive. I simply could not have done that with XP. Not without losing my mind!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    It's hard to say what he actually invented though beyond an incredibly appealing brand.

    I'd argue that - for better or worse - iTunes is the seventh pivotal waypoint in the history of recorded music*.

    Jobs may have not invented the MP3 but he invented a way of dispersing them that (eventually) satisfied the creators and the media giants - and in doing so completely reinvented the moribund record industry and offered it a way out of the hole it was rapidly digging itself.

    They hated him for it and there are all sorts of questions about control, quality, manipulation and bullying but it was without question an utterly brilliant creation on so many many levels.

    All that despite having perhaps the least attractive and efficient Apple interface since the Newton.



    *The others being Edison's Cylinder, Berliner's Flat Disc, Bell Labs' Electrical Recording, BASF's Magnetic Tape, the RCA 45/CBS Microgroove, and Sony/Philips' CD.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Lilith __,

    *and not all of them have to play sports, either. ;-)

    Are the proxy wars where its Ok to dislike other people for a short period still on?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    As far as I can tell, what Jobs brought to it was superb taste and a singular ability to yell at the right people the right way to do things he personally could not.

    As far as I can tell, what Napoleon brought to it was superb vision and a singular ability to yell at the right people the right way to do things he personally could not.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I accept that I’m out of step with the majority, and perhaps the problem lies with me, but it’s all a bit Princess Diana to me.

    I can’t see that at all. People imagined a personal connection with Diana because they’d read about her in magazines. People felt a personal connection to Jobs because they’d used tools he’d created, in some cases for decades. The scale, tone and nature of public mourning also seems very different. So yeah, nah.

    "Thank you” Post-It notes on the Apple Store window? Weird.

    No “weirder” than the blog post above, surely. There’s nothing weird about acknowledging a debt of thanks on the occasion of someone’s death.

    When the tributes are so uncritical, I think the charge of hagiography stands.

    Tributes in the 48 hours following someone’s death usually aren’t critical. Indeed, pretty much by definition, tributes aren’t critical.

    Addendum: will people feel like this when Larry Ellison dies? Why not?

    Interesting question. They have some things in common – both adopted out by biological parents they had contact with later in life, for example – but I guess it comes down to what has Larry Ellison ever done for me?

    I’ve seen then both deliver keynotes. Jobs’ enthusiasm was infectious; he nailed what he was doing. OTOH, I saw Ellison lose his composure when an OpenWorld presentation went wrong and then file into a press conference with a Gaddafi like retinue of va-va-voom personal assistants – he seemed faintly absurd. Ellison preened, Jobs didn’t.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    Windows 7 is a brainy and responsive OS, light years ahead of XP. It’s good to use, it does what I need it to.

    Yep, I get that. I don't use it, but my boy does and it's pretty clearly the best Windows ever.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    You don't think mp3 + Napster rates a mention?

    I accept that I'm out of step with the majority, and perhaps the problem lies with me, but it's all a bit Princess Diana to me.

    Jobs was an IT rock star. There's always a massive scale lamentation when someone with a fan following dies before their time. I wasn't especially interested in either Jobs or Diana, but can see why the fans are distraught. More so in the case of Jobs, really, because the impact on the lives of his fans was considerably greater. They would have used his products every day, during work and play. Not that many people get to reach so deeply into the lives of others. Well, not carrying a brand that people notice, anyway (I'm sure there's probably chips from some particular chinese factory all around my house, but I don't know and don't much care).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

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