Expected as it was, I’m still very sad about the death of Steve Jobs. As a teenager in the 1970s, I was on the edge of the burgeoning computer scene in LA, not a player, but in a role strikingly similar to part of the scholarly role I now hold, “she who speaks for geeks and makes their speech understandable to others,” AKA, Computers and Writing. I knew people like Steve Jobs, but did not know anyone who matched his drive and his vision for a possible future, an inclusive one where all people could communicate and express themselves as content creators rather than as passive audience only. Last night I saw the modestly good made-for-TV movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley” and in it, Bill Gates says that the Macintosh is the computer that he would buy his mom, words that Jobs (in the movie) takes as a compliment. Looking at how it was played though, I believe it was not. Rather, it was a smarmy, passive-agressive spin on the Apple mission to make computing that “just works” for anyone, not just tech insiders. Without Steve Jobs’ drive to make computers for everyone, truly personal computers, the rich world of content creation we live in now would not have happened. Moms are sometimes writers and artists too.
Jobs not only had the vision, but allowed that vision to include vision: he know that aesthetics were not just trivial “extras.” The best technology should be both visible and invisible; it should please the eye and fit well in the hand while also working so well that it becomes invisible, like the pen or brush are invisible to writers and artists. Not having to constantly tweak settings on a computer that looks like a brick coated in plastic was one of Jobs’ gifts to me. I work daily with PCs, Macs, and occasionally with Linux devices, but I know that my life as it is now would not be possible without the legacy that Steve Jobs left when he died on Wednesday. Thanks, Steve. You will be missed.