The Jobs backlash begins

That’s the title of my piece that just went up on Daily Beast, and it’s what I kept thinking as I pored through the Isaacson biography, which landed on my iPad last night. Much of the stuff in the book is not new, but much of the stuff that is new is kind of disappointing to people who want to view Steve Jobs as a kind of messiah figure. The stuff with Lisa, the complaints from Jony Ive about Steve taking credit for things and being hurtful to people, the stuff about Steve never seeing his kids, his obsession with Android, the unkind comments about so many people around him, the crazy attempts to cure his cancer with carrot juice and acupuncture, the demand that Obama call him personally to request a meeting, the strange Montgomery Burns suggestions to Obama about deregulating businesses so they could be more like China and about making kids go to school 11 months out of the year and stay in session until 6 p.m. — these things do not add up to a flattering portrait and and they stand in stark contrast to the hagiography we’ve seen in the 19 days since Jobs died. Maybe this is a good thing. I’ve always felt that people did Steve a disservice by portraying him as a holy man, some kind of silicon saint leading us into the promised land. It seemed to me that Steve had a deep reservoir of darkness inside him, and that this dark energy was what fueled his genius. WIthout it, he would have been just another Silicon Valley marketing guy in a pair of khakis and an Oxford shirt. His challenge was to harness that dark energy and use it without being consumed or destroyed by it.

22 Responses to “The Jobs backlash begins”

  1. woz

    Oh, BTW – did you enjoy Fat Bastard’s rant…er, “monologue” blasting Steve?

    I noticed that you deleted your post in a big hurry – regrets when you found out how specious it was by the Michael Moore wannabe?

    Reply
  2. DarwinOSX

    I’ve been buying Apple products since the late 70′s when they appeared. I’m about as big a fan of Apple products as you can find. But I have never viewed Steve as a messiah figure and don’t know anyone who does. Thats just the kind of gibberish angry small people need to further stoke or justify their own resentments. People like you Dan.

    Reply
  3. woz

    And I will pray for your soul, Dan.

    I hope you are sincere in your thoughts for DarwinOSX. Too bad I don’t believe that you are.

    Because, other than being able to glom fame from Steve, you’re just an another East Coast liberal journalism “guy in a pair of khakis and an Oxford shirt.”

    Reply
  4. John D.

    I thought the NYT review captured it succinctly and rather elegantly in the middle of its review:

    “Mr. Isaacson’s long view basically puts Mr. Jobs up there with Franklin and Einstein, even if a tiny MP3 player is not quite the theory of relativity.”

    The beatification here in the Valley (everywhere, really, but especially here) is tremendously overwrought. Undoubtedly his contributions were massive, but they were in the realm of experience, design, media consumption… is that the stuff of universe-dents? Really? (Is anything, really?)

    So this is less “backlash” and more “reality catching up with emotion.” We watched him die in public, so the initial reaction (e.g., #livelikesteve… or free-verse poetry…) is understandable. But it can’t last.

    Steve said himself, somewhat, in an interview back in the 90s (http://srml.in/caRks/?a=78FJLgzr) that technology overturns too often for any one thing to have a lasting impact. (It’s why, at the time, he said he was then into films.) I think that will be the case here. If anything his most fundamental contributions were in the 70s-80s, and how was he remembered then? No, it’s only because he produced massively engaging products — ones far better than competitors’ — and because he was its premier pitch-man, that we have such a reaction.

    He was just a man. And iPhones and iPads are just “stuff,” right? As are we all.

    Reply
  5. Mr. PoopyPants

    Oh but it did consume him. The darkness inside him prevented him from accepting a mainstream treatment.

    Reply
  6. lastangelman

    Cringely and Neal Stephenson had pretty much alluded to Steve’s dark matter as far back as ’98. While we wait for the mythical Apple Television set to appear and blow our minds (Saint Steve’s last gift to his flock), Apple the company could sort of redeem itself by bringing one hundred percent of it manufacturing out of China and Pacific Rim and into the United States [and I don't mean that invisible slave state known as Northern Marianas]. Create a Wonka like manufacturing compounds for workers and management – everyone lives and works on campus. Set an example for other companies to bring manufacturing jobs back to US.

    Reply
  7. Brent

    @ Darwin

    What a joke. If you can’t concede that the image of Jobs created by Apple’s PR bore little resemblance to the real Jobs being revealed in his own words, then that explains why you have the alias you do and seek out this forum to criticize Dan.

    @ Dan

    Liked the article and very insightful summation.

    Reply
  8. vikram333

    Ah Dan Lyons, never passing up a chance to take a shot at Steve Jobs while wrapping it up in a phoney sort of reporterish way, cherry-picking the negative and at the same time not taking time to understand context.

    Your need to create a “backlash” is hilarious. No Apple fanboy thinks that Jobs is a saint. That is a straw man that you love to tackle. Those that admire Jobs do so because of how he improved the world through his technology. His personal life is his own – messy as many people’s are.

    You purposefully leave out salient facts or misreport them and slant them. Isaacson’s book didn’t say that Jobs cut off his daughter’s college tuition. And you fail to mention the fact that Jobs daughter’s mother is apparently a crazy hippy who Jobs later did provide for who sold the 700k house that Jobs gave for her use and wasted the money and was a parasitic leech for most of her life. And you fail to point out that Jobs was talking about removing regulations to improve employment in America so that America could better compete with China – given the unemployment problem hardly a a nefarious Mr. Burns-like suggestion.

    You also may want to note that Jony Ive evidently thought highly enough of Jobs that he (still) called Jobs his best friend, has still stayed with Apple even after being worth over $100M even after his complaints. You could watch Ive’s speech at the Apple memorial (on the Apple website) for more insight into both Ive and Jobs.

    So called reporters like you are funny, you simply want to tear down people and say bad things about Jobs about Apple etc… I recall the crap that you said about the iPad when it came out to Om Malik, malicious for no reason and utterly wrong in terms of understanding its value.

    Jobs was a messiah – a technology messiah. His admirers admire him for those abilities, not for anything else.

    You on the other hand are a mean-spirited hack of the first order. No one will think any more of you when you die. rather they will remember that you were a paid shill for Microsoft shamelessly peddling your bogus SCO shilling.

    And they may remember you for your silly Fake Steve Jobs schtick – trying hard to attract attention to yourself and reflecting in the attention that the world gave to a man of real consequence who changed the world for the better.

    Reply
  9. Karl from Houston

    Steve’s half-sister, Mona Simpson, wrote a book that seems to be about him called _A Regular Guy: A Novel_ and if anyone ever thought he was a saint, a quick read of that will set them straight. The guy denies the paternity of his daughter, who lives on a commune with her mom, etc.

    Reply
  10. PedroNPdelGato

    I would like to hear your thoughts on Mona Simpson’s eulogy. It’s getting a lot of play on Facebook.

    Reply
  11. faddah

    agreed. he harnessed his own “dark matter” to produce the things we all love. yes, we all know he could be an incorrigible asshat at times (trying to make the whole company wear the mock turtleneck uniform? sheesh). i’m enjoying the issacson bio also, would love to compare notes when you’re done, d. steve was not saint steve – terribly flawed, indeed. but he mellowed with age, as hopefully all of us do, especially after the cancer diagnosis; he gave a home to the child he once denied, and both his children and his wife vindicated him in the end. and we should all lead as flawed a brilliant life.

    one last thing — woz, no matter how important you think it is, please don’t bend over to show us your “dark matter.” ever. o.k.?

    Reply
  12. faddah

    @ lastangelman – apple would be be more than happy to bring all manufacturing back to u.s., if you would gladly fork over $15,000 for a bottom of the line apple iPad 2.

    ’nuff sed.

    Reply
  13. woz

    “one last thing — woz, no matter how important you think it is, please don’t bend over to show us your “dark matter.” ever. o.k.?”

    No prob.

    Besides, that location is where Lyons dark matter is stored.

    Reply
  14. faddah

    woz-y, woz-y, woz-y — as abfabs’ patsy would oft say to edwina, bitterness doesn’t become you, dear. besides, we all know kathy griffin snapped on the nurse’s latex rubber gloves and dug deep into your “dark matter” years ago.

    rrrowr. bitch.

    Reply

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