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Archive for October 19th, 2011

Steve Jobs

October 19th, 2011 | Category: Life,Opinions

I’ve been thinking about this post a lot, it’s just hard to know what to say. I mean, writing about Steve Jobs in the past-tense is something I never expected to do, not ever. He was supposed to outlive me by decades, but now he’s gone and I’m just kind of at a loss for the right words.

I think Steve was so successful because he never set out to sell computers or digital music players or smart-phones, he was selling people a new reality, a reality in which technology would make life better. People wanted ways to organize their photos, listen to their favorite songs while taking the train to work, so he gave us the technology to make those things possible. Steve saw the little facets of life that were kind of annoying, like cluttered disks full of digital pictures, that giant CD collection that kept its own collection of dust, so he gave us the Mac and iPhoto to keep our memories organized and safe, iTunes and the iPod so we could ditch those dusty stacks of CDs, then the iPhone so we could easily stay connected to the people and things we care about, any time, any place. When he introduced a piece of hardware or software, he didn’t just rattle off feature-sets, he talked about what this shiny new whatever could DO to make your life a little bit better, to make tedious things not tedious anymore, and he always did so with intense sincerity and passion. He honestly believed in whatever new reality he was trying to sell, which convinced us to go spend some money to give that reality a whirl, and sure enough, Steve would be right. That device or software we bought did make life better, easier, more fun. I went to a bunch of Steve’s keynotes, I was there when he introduced iTunes, iPhoto, various colors and shapes of iMacs, nobody ever left bored, skeptical, we all wanted the “it” we just saw. We wanted it because Steve just seemed so completely and honestly certain that “it” would make our little pieces of the planet better. I get the same vibe watching Steve on-stage that I get from Kurt Cobain, they were both artists, and whatever they gave us on-stage was always so absolutely fucking honest, and they both changed the world, definitely changed my world, with that honesty. Perfect raw honesty is always beautiful, people want to be a part of it.

To me, Steve wasn’t just the CEO of some giant faceless technology company, he was someone I knew, someone I’d talked to back when I could talk. I interviewed him about Mac games back when I wrote about Mac games, the first and only interview he ever gave to a Mac games site. I was just a twenty-two year-old nobody, but he took the time to talk to me, to answer my five questions. A few years later, I was supposed to give the keynote at this big assistive technology conference and receive some kind of award, so I e-mailed Steve and said that I wanted to give that keynote on the best MacBook Pro available, to show people how far a Mac and assistive technology could go. Two days later, I had that MacBook Pro. I happened to choke on some pineapple juice a few weeks after I got that computer, and a few days before the conference, so I didn’t get to use it for half of the cool stuff I promised. I mostly used that computer for survival, two months in the hospital, those months at home figuring out how to be okay without being able to talk. I don’t think Steve regretted sending it, I was still pushing assistive technology to the bleeding edge, just in a more private way, with lots of drugs and liquor because my girlfriend left me. Steve sent a nice “You’re welcome” in reply to my explanation and “Thank you.” I think Steve liked assistive technology because, I think in his eyes, assistive technology shows the Mac, and now iOS devices as well, doing what he truly meant for them to do, but one step further. Apple devices and assistive technology don’t just make people’s lives better, they make people’s lives possible. There’s a difference between existing and living, for people with disabilities assistive technology is much of that difference, and I think Steve understood that fact. I think that’s why he talked to me that first time, why he sent me that MacBook Pro, why even when Apple was drowning in red ink and Steve was cutting departments and programs like crazy, he never cut Apple’s assistive technology efforts. Instead, assistive technology has expanded over the years at Apple. Apple makes sure that assistive technology developers get the support they need so their products don’t just work on Apple devices, they shine. My assistive technology doesn’t break every time OS X gets updated, because Apple supports its assistive technology developers, because Steve Jobs wanted assistive technology on the platform he created to make people’s lives better.

Steve Jobs really did change the world, he made life better, easier, more fun, and for some people, he made life possible. I met the woman I love, the other piece of the puzzle that is me, because of Steve’s technology. I wanted to send him an e-mail showing him some projects I’ve finally finished, but mostly, I really just wanted to tell him how the Mac has affected my life since I quit talking, how I met someone I want to be with for my ever because iChat let me say, “Hi!” I wanted to say thanks, I’ll always be sad somewhere in my head that I didn’t. Maybe he knows all this, has a better view of things from where he is right now. Maybe I’ll get to talk to him again somewhere else. I don’t know, I guess I’ll find out eventually, maybe.