During the past 50 years there has been no person (known or unknown to me) who has been a greater icon(oclast) for our generation, than Steve Jobs. The fact the CEO of a major company, who I have never met, passed away on Wednesday, and it has had such a huge impact on me emotionally, has not gone unnoticed. The definition of an iconoclast, according to Wikipedia:
People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called “iconoclasts”, a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who challenges established dogma or conventions.
Many people use the term “icon” to simply refer to someone who is well known, looked up to and revered. I believe he was all that, but even more importantly he did it all on his own terms, and while battling the conventions of the “norm”. His fifteen minute 2005 Stanford University commencement speech has garnered (as of today) more than 9 million views on YouTube, and if you take the time to watch it, you will see he has lived, learned and invented his own way. Imagine being fired from the very company you started, Apple, and then moving forward as he did? He recognized that for him becoming a failure, allowed him to grow as only icons can, because he never would have started Pixar had he stayed at Apple. He also believed the success he had achieved at Apple clouded his vision, and being fired released him thereby clearing the way for his vision of Pixar.
“Living each day as if it is your last, because sooner or later you will be right. Knowing I will be dead soon has certainly been the most powerful tool for me. ..Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
Steve Jobs, 2005
For me the respect started in the late 1970′s, when I remember hearing about the apple computer. I later read that the Apple I was launched in 1976, by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac out of their
garage. Then came the Apple II which was my very first personal computer. I remember being very intimidated by it, but found after mastering the use of the screen and keyboard it was great for storing and accessing data. After having that initial computer I have never been without one. The interesting fact is, my generation was a transitional one: learning how to use computer technology on the fly, since there were no computer classes in high school or college. Starting in the 1980′s computer technology has been taught first as an elective and now it is continuously woven through education.
My 22 year old son has never used a typewriter, or written a paper for school on anything other than a computer. Now my 11 year old son has known a world with everything within reach: the iPhone, iPod and iPad. At the International School of The Hague where he attends school, they introduced the iPod for Edication in Year 6. Every child in Year 6 now has an iPod with educational applications, which will help develop the critical thinking necessary for the technical geniuses of the future. Even my 74 year old mother has an iPad. If you work in graphic design, applied art, entertainment, or music, you simply cannot work with any other computer but a Mac. The immersion of art into technology is amazing.
I believe the vision of Steve Jobs paved the way for this generation to communicate in a way never before imagined. I update my global family and friends daily via Facebook . I speak to my best friend in San Francisco (from The Hague) for FREE on Viber via my smartphone. I play Words with Friends (Scrabble app on iTunes) with friends and family around the world. I “check-in” to businesses via FourSquare wherever I go, writing comments and tips to help support small business and anyone who might be considering that business. My husband and his business partners have developed an application (MIAirline) which will revolutionize the way cockpit and cabin crew communicate with the airlines they work for and the passengers they serve…all of which would simply not be possible without the vision of our generation’s iCon: Steve Jobs. Most of us learned of Steve’s passing, as I did, on my smartphone. News travels fast in the decade of smart technology.
To quote President Barack Obama on his Oval Office statement on hearing of Job’s passing:
The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.
The legend of Steve Jobs will live on through the ages, as other uses for these devices will evolve, applications are developed and as he so eloquently has said “the new will become old and something else will take its place”…but the fact these were there in the first place has revolutionized our communication for generations to come. Don’t even get me started on his contributions to animation through Pixar. Steve: you and your vision will be missed and you will remain my iCon.