Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bill Burr on Steve Jobs

There's a good point being made in there somewhere.


Jonathan said...


Some interesting points. Have you read Job's Biography? It's pretty interesting. The guy was crazy intense, amazingly arrogant, often devoid of a conscious, often a terrible father, and could bend people's thoughts and feelings to his will. There's a term for this innate power he had over people, it's called the reality distortion field. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_distortion_field

He was selfish, arrogant, and self serving. He built a massive company that took advantage of workers in China, and he changed how we interact with the world on many levels.

So yeah, the guy had a lot of bad qualities. But one thing he certainly wasn't was irrelevant or irreplaceable. He was one of the rare people who had the trifecta of amazingly strong belief, amazing talent, and hard working ethic (call it puritan if you want Ex, but I doubt Jobs would agree that was his inspiration ;-) ) combined to literally transform the world.

One thing that drove him was this uncompromising belief in the aesthetic and the inherent form and function of objects. He'd agonize over the smallest details of his product -spent weeks on the form factor for the iPad, made his engineers run traces in parallel in PCBs that would never see the light of day, and ultimately infuse a sense of intuitiveness and order throughout his business. That's why my 2 year old can use my iPad and not my computer.

So while we can debate if this was a net good for humanity, and how much technology he designed and created himself versus stole or extracted from others, I don't think one has a leg to stand on if they think taking Jobs out of the picture would have yielded many of the present day experiences.

For me, while I don't admire him in a lot of ways as a person, I do think the Jobs story does show clearly two strikingly different types of people in the world - those with motivation and strong conviction who believe they can change the world, and those who sit on couches and talk about how unimpressed they are with the changes. Which do you think your readers should aspire to be?

Jon said...

No, I haven't read his biography. What I'm taking from Bill Burr is not that Jobs wasn't critical in the development of certain products. What I'm taking is that there's a whole army of people involved, and he's standing up there in his black shirt giving us the impression that he's Tesla, doing it all by himself. He wasn't Tesla. He was incredible and in many ways admirable, but he wasn't Tesla.

And you could even set aside the people that worked along side him and also consider the people that went before him. People act like we wouldn't have computers without Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They don't mention the geniuses that went before them that created computers in the first place (incidentally it was done with public funds).

I see a lot of middle ground between a hard working guy like Jobs on the one hand who succeeds and the guy that sits on his couch doing nothing. In between we have others, like people that also worked really hard, contributed a lot, but just don't get any of the credit because Jobs sucks that all up for himself. And so I really don't think anybody should listen to me if I tell them what they should aspire to be. They might work really hard, they might do all the innovating, and then some CEO or program manager will steal their idea and take all the credit and they may not end up with much to show for what they've done and they might just wish they'd instead gone fishing.

I think laziness is underrated. I think I've mentioned the residents of Okinawa before. They have very high levels of happiness and long lives, but they aren't rich. They focus more on spending quality time with each other, interacting, rather than trying to pull in as much money as possible. Sitting on couches isn't so bad. Not that I'm telling anybody else what they should aspire to do. People should do whatever they want to do, and they shouldn't let external factors like societies expectations or what society says is success distract them from what really feels like success in their own mind. If a man lives an impoverished life but enjoys himself and has no regrets, then that's the right choice for him, right? Maybe Jesus would fit in that category. I'll take someone like Jesus over Steve Jobs. Jesus was more successful than Jobs, but he wasn't rich.

Examinator said...

"Bill Burr doesn't believe the Steve Jobs hype" .... neither do I