The real Steve Jobs
August 25th, 2011 by ravi

Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced his resignation from Apple. This has prompted an outpouring of touchingly sentimental stories from those who have interacted with the man. John Gruber has been collecting a bunch of them at his blog, from which I have reproduced a few links:

Alongside these personal anecdotes have emerged the usual superlative-laden hagiographies that, however well-intentioned, force Jobs into the standard mould – visionary, innovator, tireless leader, so on. In my opinion this is all wrong, and dangerously wrong. Jobs is interesting because his style flies against these impressive but ill-defined terms. He is unabashedly common-sensical and bullshit-free.

Consider this conversation reported by Rob Walker writing in the New York Times in 2003:

After half an hour of this, my inquiries really did start to fall apart, so I didn’t expect much when I resorted to asking, in so many words, whether he thinks consciously about innovation.

“No,” he said, peevishly. “We consciously think about making great products. We don’t think, ‘Let’s be innovative!'” He waved his hands for effect. “Let’s take a class! Here are the five rules of innovation, let’s put them up all over the company!”

The emperor has no clothes. That is his great value. Resist the urge to gussy him up!

And while we are at it, let’s try to stop writing about him in the past tense.

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