Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Art of Jobs

by Drew Martin
I took this picture of a New York Chinatown storefront last year, which had a Chinese version of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson next to the Art of War. I finished reading Steve Jobs last week, ironically on an old Kindle. It was my first read on a Kindle. I thought I would hate the experience but I love the screen, which only gets clearer in sunlight (as opposed to the glare of an iPad), and I found it more enticing to pick up and read here and there than a hard copy. Isaacson is particularly good at writing about the relationships people had to Jobs in this warts-and-all biography. I finished it with a new found respect for the prickly, but driven character of a visionary who earned a place in history next to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. What I learned most from the book, is how the quality of the Apple product (while Jobs was running the show) came before everything else. If there is a flaw to the book it is that Isaacson brings you into what he often references as Jobs's reality distortion field, which leaves you marveling at everything he pulled off without really questioning the deeper meaning and long-term affects of Apple's push to dominate so many markets and industries. I did appreciate Isaacson's candid explanation of Jobs's dependence on Bill Gates at several times in his career, and how certain marketing ideas, which we associate with his brilliance, were really something he actually objected. These included his insistence on wanting their groundbreaking computer to be called the Bicycle, instead of what won out, the Macinotsh, and his initial dislike of the famous iPod dancing silhouettes, which Lee Clow of the advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day stood firm to keep. Clow was also the man behind the famous 1984 Superbowl commercial for the Macintosh.