Wow. I’ve been around longer than Steve Jobs. I’ve read and seen the deaths of people I’ve grown up with: family members; famous people like Bob Hope, whom I adored for his USO work; Carl Sagan. And I know the reality is that many more people I know and know of will make the obituary pages. I watched the Emmys and was astounded at how many had passed this year that I’ve grown up with.
But Steve Jobs……that was a punch in the gut. For one thing, he was cut down in the prime of his life, and I can say that, since I now am aware with age that 56 is YOUNG. Secondly, though I never met the man, he is someone who has influenced me in amazing ways through my teaching. And through me he has influenced even more people. I have said for a number of years, probably since I learned he had pancreatic cancer, that here was a man whose influence on the world will still be measured decades from now. Sure, we’ve still got Bill Gates. But we mostly know him as one of the world’s richest men and the butt of a lot of Microsoft jokes. Gates is a visionary in his own right, a contemporary of Jobs.
But it’s Steve Jobs I think of every time I sit at my Mac, every time I think about what new technology I can incorporate in the classroom to help make a lesson better, and every time I take away an iPod from a student for listening to it in class. I bought my first Mac, an Apple II G, without a hard drive (who needed one of those when you could carry your floppies with you?) in 1989. All of a sudden I was able to create a lot more interesting material for students. Of course I could have done that on a PC, but from the beginning, a Mac always seemed like my friend. Would Photoshop even have developed with only a PC base as its beginning? Not sure, but, IMHO, I don’t think so…..
I learned Appleworks as my first word processing program. I used Pagemill for my first website. We’ve been in e-commerce since 1997 – we’re “oldies” when it comes to having a business on line. I worked every one of my Macs ( my Performa, my first iMac -the cube, my second all-in-one iMac, and now my 27-inch iMac – never a crash, never a problem I couldn’t solve) way past their normal life span . And never a replacement for anything. I discovered iTunes and have not bought another CD since then. Hubby has enjoyed many hours searching the iTunes store and downloading music. Need a song to demonstrate an idea in class? Head to iTunes and buy it for 99 cents. I think of what using music used to entail – reel-to-reel tape recorders (which used to be state of the art technology), ordering an album, hoping the needle on the record player wouldn’t scratch the vinyl. Take music with you? Remember boom boxes? Cassettes? Eight-tracks? Every kid seems to have some form of music player.
The iPhone? All of a sudden a phone wasn’t just for calling to say you would be late or stuck in traffic. When AT&T broke up, in a small way it was the beginning that led to the iPhone. Steve Jobs probably saw that as just the beginning.
The iPad? Bottom line, I want one. I can carry books with me, have my music, check my banking – in general, enjoy retirement a whole lot easier.
A week or so ago I was talking with a friend about Jobs’ stepping down from Apple. We wondered if the company would continue to innovate. Her take was yes, it probably would for a couple of years, because there are no doubt a lot of new things in the pipeline. But after that? She didn’t think so. And I’m not sure I think so….too often programs and companies are the people themselves, and when the guiding light goes, for whatever reason, so goes the true spirit.
Several years ago I watched the YouTube video of his commencement address, and so many things he said I had been feeling. These are the quotes you will be seeing on a Facebook status. But what stayed with me was the fact that I did what he was talking about. I followed my heart, even when the family thought I was nuts.
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
— BusinessWeek interview, May 1998 – this is how I approach the teaching of algebra to students who think they can’t do math.
“[Y]ou can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
— Stanford University commencement address, June 2005. – I had to trust that teaching was what I was meant to do, and one day I realized I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Your time is limited,” Jobs warns. ”So don’t waste it living someone else’s life….Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Commencement, 2005
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
RIP, Steve Jobs. 1955 – 2011
And as one final thought, here’s a post from Lyric Kinard with a different tribute to Steve Jobs.