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Semiformalishmaybe

Value of Dissent

Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT, and an American political figure I deeply respect) has recently been grilling Bernanke, and activists, divorced from a bewildered Democratic administration, have been holding large protests in NYC. It's heartening to see someone voicing these concerns, and makes me angry about the opportunities Obama missed when there initially was momentum to deal with these issues.

Steve Jobs, one of the three cofounders of Apple Computer, died yesterday. I believe the areas where he was best in life probably were not shown through who he was or what he did.

Steve Jobs was a bit of a nut. Difficult to deal with, high-strung, and a bit crazy, he got a lot done but in an unlikable way. He was also often unsuccessful. NeXT computer may have made fantastic products that deserved to win (many of which are still steps up from what most of us are using now), but they also often got the details pretty wrong.

When NeXT bought Apple, Jobs did seem to have a better set of ideas for success, but unfortunately, he also ended Apple's experiment with hardware openness (death of the clones) and only flirted with their experiment with software openness. He may have restored Apple to profitability, but in doing so, he brought back the old, bad, closed Apple. Modern Apple is a reflection of Steve Jobs' control-freak tendencies.

I reject the idea of Apple as an innovator (except insofar as NeXT was one); it rarely has, although it often picked up on emerging technologies and popularised them, from the GUI to mp3 players and tablets. It is a company that waits-pounces-and-polishes, and then sues to block others from competing.

One of the few good things Apple has done under Jobs is to shove hard against phone carriers and the traditional music industry. Otherwise it's been Apple's particular flavour of polished mediocrity.

I don't know if we'd have as many cool things had Apple not existed, and it's hard to know if some other controlling hand would've won out had Apple not been there. I do not respect Jobs as a company leader, and I generally do not respect businesspeople for business success per-se. As with most humans, I imagine Jobs was loved by people in his personal life, and believe he will and should be missed by them. As humans, we should respect human life and regret the passing of anyone.

Comments

well said about steve jobs. i don't really like how it seems we all have to suppress well-justified opinions about things we don't like in light of a death such as this.

in particular, today's xkcd (which is brilliant) sort of evokes for me a sense of "there is something i should feel uncomfortable about here". i wonder if randall intended it that way.