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Steve Jobs: Walter Isaacson’s Biography – A Book Commentary

This often critical biography of someone famously known for being difficult draws a portrait of a brilliantly creative man who’s relentless, single-minded obsession with perfection created two of the world’s most successfully branded companies; Pixar Films and Apple Computers.

Revolutions aren’t created by nice people, and Steve Jobs, does not appear to be a ‘people person’ particularly to those who worked for him.  He is a man with an uncanny ability to perceive a need that bridges cultural entertainment with high tech – including a vision for beautiful, simple  design that focuses on anticipating the users every need. While his day-to-day communications skills were legendarily wanting, his ability to anticipate communications on the larger artistic and systemic level is phenomenal.

Steve Jobs sits at the unique intersection of the humanities and technology. Technology without the human element meant nothing to him and his criticism of his largest rival,Microsoft ,was their lack of user friendliness, their open architecture and the ugliness of their product. It simply wasn’t good enough for him.

His accomplishments in such a short life are legendary; the founding of Apple Computers in his parents garage with Steve Wozniak, the launch of the Apple, the Macintosh, iTunesiPhoneiMaciMovie, Apple Stores – his product launches, the commercials -we haven’t even touched on Pixar Films and the Toy Story franchise.

When Jobs realized he was losing his battle against cancer he approached Isaacson to write the story of his life with the promise that he would not interfere with the process or with the story. Lauren Jobs, Steve‘s wife urged Isaacson to be honest, acknowledging that her husband’s life had been ‘messy’ and that not everyone would have kind things to say. Isaacson successfully delivers on the incredible life story of Steve Jobs, a man known to be  a driven, difficult, bad tempered perfectionist. It’s this same man who revolutionized how we as human beings communicate and entertain ourselves with beautifully elegant devices that anticipate our every need.  This is a book that Steve wanted written because he wanted  his children to know who he was.

There is something about his life story that is larger than life and maybe that’s why I couldn’t put the book down. Jobs, was obviously, far from perfect, but his enormous gifts allowed him in  his very short life to bring to fruition a vision that has fundamentally changed how we communicate.

And what drove Steve Jobs? – a generous recognition of all those whose creative contributions fundamentally impacted the world:

“What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and that shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to that flow. It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how – because we can’t write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That is what has driven me.”

I loved this book and felt enormously sad when Steve Jobs life journey ended.


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