Reverberations of the news of Steve Jobs death are being felt throughout the media, Twitterverse, and blogosphere, with heartfelt tributes pouring in about his influence on so many lives.
I was caught off guard by how deeply his passing affected me, as someone who did not know him personally. I’ve seen numerous tweets and status updates reflecting a similar, unexpected sadness at the news of his death. Much grace to his wife and children, and those who knew him, through this sorrow.
A Generational Icon
Comparisons to Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Beatles and, even, Leonardo da Vinci have been made as people reflect on the impact Steve Jobs has made in culture and history.
Steve Jobs, through his tenacity and vision, reshaped entire industries (computers, phones, music, film). At a certain point this year, Apple overtook Exxon as the most valuable company in the world. Although he wasn’t an engineer, 317 patents list his name. Few people could hope to claim a Top 10 list like this. As has happened to many cultural icons before him, Steve Jobs died too young, it feels.
He changed the way movies are made, the way music is sold, the way stories are told, the very way we interact with the world around us. He helped us work, and gave us new ways to play.
For many of us, from Toy Story to the iPhone, the work of Steve Jobs has been a part of our lives from our earliest memories. One message making the rounds on Twitter highlights the ubiquity of Apple products by asking users to RT (retweet) a message if it’s being viewed on an Apple product.
To have such an impact on the ordinary, everyday lives of people — picture a student typing notes on her MacBook Air, a customer texting on his iPhone while waiting for his coffee order, an airline pilot checking the flight manual on an iPad, a tech blogger griping about the lack of blowout features on the upcoming iPhone 4S — is exceedingly rare.
Even though it didn’t have a printer, my first computer was an Apple IIe – the kind with a green and black screen. And, even though I hardly used it for anything more than rousing games of Karateka, that old Apple IIe set me on the path of wanting to design and create.
Apple led the way in design that matters — as John Maeda writes, with a beautiful simplicity and a human element of connection. From NPR, the devices Jobs helped create were, “ever-present, all-purpose, people-friendly gizmos that bridged the divide between poet and programmer, music lover and machinist, grandparent and gamer, technoid and virtually everyone else.”
His singular entrepreneurial force inspired leaders in business, art, design, and any organization that wants to succeed without losing its soul. From Jobs:
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’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Today, we know the market dominance of the iPhone and iPad in their respective categories but, perhaps just as significantly, his story included much risk and failure. For me, that firm belief in his work and willingness to endure hardship to achieve that goal inspires me to holy risk, to passionately pursue what matters, and to live out the Kingdom dreams of God today.
From The Wall Street Journal’s compilation of Jobs quotes:
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.
I appreciate what Eugene Cho writes:
Death is NOT the final word. Rather, it is only the beginning of eternity of communion and fellowship with God our Creator. But be warned: Rather than seeking eternity, we live in the present — in the HERE and NOW – with beauty, hope, and courage… may we indeed live our lives but may it also reflect the life of one person that is worthy to be emulated: Christ.
May we learn to dream, risk, fail, and change the world.