The passing of the Steve Jobs little over a week ago has been a devastating and significant event. It brought home for many of us the magnificent and unique impact that Jobs had on the way we use and think of technology. More than that, we were reminded of the oversize impact on the culture in general that his innovations and business ventures have had. He combined an uncanny acumen for understanding what consumers really wanted, and pushing their own boundaries beyond what they thought possible.
For most of his career Jobs has been the darling of the media, and over the years there have been published countless articles and interviews with him. He especially featured prominently in publications and media outlets that dealt with consumer technology, and in those circles he has always had an almost mythological status. The Wired magazine has covered him during all of its two-decade long existence, and "Steve Jobs, Revolutionary" is a wonderful collection of articles, essays, and interviews that have featured in the Wired, going back to 1996.
In my opinion Wired is the best technology magazine today. It combines the reviews of cutting-edge gadgets and other trendy products with an in-depth analysis of technology trends and other topics that may appeal to the digital generation. They have some of the best tech journalists writing for them, and have consistently maintained the high standards of journalism. Some of the insights that these journalist have provided have been invaluable, as is reflected in the
The articles and analysis in this collection have oftentimes been prescient, and it's very interesting to go over these reflections from what in technology can be termed ancient history. On occasion, though, the insights have been completely wrong, and never more so then with the first of the 101 suggestions for Apple that appeared in 1997. The suggestion was "Admit it. You are out of the hardware game." Like millions of others, I am incredibly grateful to Apple and Steve Jobs that they never made that "admission".
One thing that jumps out in the only interview in this collection is Steve Jobs' concern with the big idea. Even when he is discussing any given currently relevant or cutting edge technology, he immediately jumps into the discussion of the underlying principles that may drive it, or in some instances may foreshadow that technology's demise. The interview was revealing because of Jobs' understanding of all the opportunities that the Internet and the web may
Aside from the interview, this collection includes the following articles: "Steve Jobs: 1955-2011" (a recently published eulogy of Jobs by Steven Levy), "101 Ways to Save Apple", "The Perfect Thing" (an inside account of the iPod's creation), "Weapon of Mass Disruption" (the story of iPhone's design), "Evil/Genius" (on Apple penchant for ignoring almost all of the corporate conventional wisdom), and "Tabula Rasa" (on creation of iPod). All of these articles reinforce the impression that Steve Jobs and Apple have continuously been striving to bring an unprecedented level of quality and ease of use to all of their products. For Steve Jobs creating new technology was never just about having your products dominate the market. It was always about something more than that, about instilling technology with certain worldview and outlook. If the reaction to his death is anything to go by, he has largely succeeded in his intentions.
Yet, over the years Steve Jobs has become increasingly weary of the claims that technology can radically transform our lives. As he got older and started devoting more time to his family, he realized with an increasing amount of clarity that the truly important things in life are the ones that no amount of technical wizardry can adequately replace.
This short book is a good way to tie us over until Steve Jobs' official biography (Steve Jobs) launches next month. Of the currently available full-size books that deal with Steve Jobs I'd recommend iCon. If you are a die-hard Mac fan then reading Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made is an absolute must. This last book actually doesn't deal with Steve Jobs all that much, but is instead focused on the original Macintosh team. Nonetheless, that book also provides a glimpse into the creative culture that Jobs fostered and nurtured at Apple.
"Steve Jobs, Revolutionary" is a very interesting and readable collection of articles that does a great deal of paying the last tribute to the man that has touched countless lives with his unique and winning vision.