iThink it’s a bit much (UPDATED)

I’ve been watching the reaction to Steve Jobs death… and was a bit… unsettled… over it all… and then I found this from Robert:

Steve-Jobs I must phrase this carefully because I don’t intend to be disrespectful: the global outpouring of grief for an inventor of consumer goods seems a little curious to me, maybe even a little unseemly.

I understand the world has lost a giant of innovation and a true marketing genius. My house is full of the gadgets his company creates and his vision was behind much of its achievements.

Still, to eulogize his passing as that of a Ghandi or a Mandela seems to me to be raising our addiction to consumerism to an actual religion. From tributes outside Apple stores to the expressions of anguish we see online, it appears we have lost the Prophet of Cool Stuff. Or was he the actual God of Cool Stuff?

Again, this is not to denigrate the accomplishments of this visionary techie, this reaction reflects more on us than it does on him but, seriously, it’s a phone, people.

I rarely agree with Robert… in fact, I can’t remember ever agreeing with the man… he’s been on the blogroll for some time because he occasionally provides me with fodder to rail against…. but not this time.

Not this time at all.

And trust me when I tell you that I realize this will be a most unpopular perspective.

Rail against me in the comments.

UPDATE: The Anchoress links… and adds:

True. I think one of the realities of New Media, though, is that all reactions seem like “outsized” reactions, simply because there is SO MUCH being shared, by SO MANY. In the 21st Century, perhaps, every “big” death gets the Princes Di treatment!

Shortlink:

Posted by on October 6, 2011.
Filed under Deaths, Life Issues, People In The News, Philosophy.
Tagged with: .
I blog more regularly at my own place where plain thoughts are delivered roughly. My about page gives you more on who I am.

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  • Sheik Yur Bouty

    For the record, I don’t disagree with you here at all.

    Jobs was a visionary genius, and he will be missed.  But some of the reaction to his passing just shows how far our society has fallen.

    Consumerism isn’t the religion.  The religion is hype and pop culture.  Consumerism is a sect of that.

    • Anonymous

      I suppose you’d have to compare the reaction to the death of Samuel F.B. Morse or Marconi to get a comparison.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

        They are still mourning Tesla.

        • Anonymous

          Only the people that paid to see their concerts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.laprarie Michael Laprarie

      Last night I asked on FaceBook whether or not Bill Gates will receive this kind of adulation on word of his passing.  I think not, for several reasons.  Yet one of my friends pointed out that Bill Gates has given hundreds of millions of dollars to various humanitarian causes around the world.  Steve Jobs was a visionary, and he had the skills to create a company that could bring his visions to life — and in doing so he definitely changed the way the world shares information.  But Jobs was never a philanthropist in the traditional sense.  That’s something to think about.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7YIUZMXOD5JGZZTCYMVA75KFU Shadow

      I offer my condolences to Mr. Jobs family.  I respect and appreciate his many accomplishments.
      I also believe the adulation has been a bit over the top and wondered why.  Seeing the way many people cling to their iPhones and other devices gave me the idea that they feel very connected and indebted to the man who was responsible for the development of their most prized possessions.  In their minds, these “binkies” are as necessary as air.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, but this is just the Death of the Day.  By tomorrow, the American people with their short attention span will have moved on.

    Jobs did do more than just phones, though.  The Mac OS was the basis for all operating systems used now, no matter how much MS would try to deny it.

    He had the advantage of having a long extended illness, which gave the media time to prepare the narrative.

    I am surprised about the fawning over him here, since he gave massive amounts of money to the most liberal Democrats.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.laprarie Michael Laprarie

      “The Mac OS was the basis for all operating systems used now, no matter how much MS would try to deny it.”

      Heh.  It has long been said that one of the most prescient oxymorons in contemporary culture is “Microsoft Innovation.”

      Keep dreaming Bill, keep dreaming.

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        @facebook-751614087:disqus wrote:

        “The Mac OS was the basis for all operating systems used now, no matter how much MS would try to deny it.”

        Ah, no.  MAC OS since 10.x has been based on a Unix Kernel, the genesis of which predates both Apple Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.  Microsoft started “borrowing” from the BSD Unix Kernel (for networking) with (as I recall) later versions of Windows ’98 and on.

        The “innovation” of both Apple and MS when it comes to OS’s has been highly derivative.

        Jobs genius was in developing gadgets which had great consumer appeal, but even he had some noteworthy flops (does Newton ring a bell?).

        • http://www.rustedsky.net Anonymous

          And let’s not talk about the Lisa…

          But even so – Jobs was the spark that started the computer explosion.  Without him, computing would be vastly different.  Deify?  No – but he was the right man in the right place at the right time with the right idea, and that made all the difference.

    • jim_m

      The Mac OS was the basis for all operating systems used now

      Except that the Mac OS was derived from systems that Xerox had already developed previously:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_interface

      The Mac OS was building on what had been done before and the people who made it knew of these developments.  They took the next step, but to imply that they birthed it out of nothing is simply inaccurate.

      Also, we tend to forget one of the greatest failings of Apple, which was the decision back in the 80′s to not allow other manufacturer’s the rights to license their technology and make clones.  IBM drove the PC architecture and opened it up for others to clone. That is why everyone uses PC’s today and few of us use Macs.  It is one of the classic blunders of innovation and manufacturing. Jobs is very lucky that Apple did not go the way of Betamax.  The result is that Mac’s a relegated to a far smaller market share than they would otherwise have had and Apple denied itself the vast sums that out licensing their technology would have brought.

      One of the hallmarks of Apple is innovation, but allong with that is the hallmark of jealously protecting that innovation behind a wall of patent protection.  They keep everything in house and do not allow others to license and expand upon that technology.  The great risk with that strategy is that if you cannot continually innovate and successfully predict the future of the marketplace you go out of business.  Whether Apple can do so without Jobs is highly suspect. It did rather poorly without him previously.

      • Anonymous

        Apple always based their computer model on proprietary hardware and software that shut out independent developers. They then overpriced their hardware so that the consumer paid through the nose for it, still do.

        There’s only so much excitement you can generate for the Mac Fanboi’s and the release of the latest Mac OS with its limited ‘features’ proves the point yet again. Their hardware upgrades were never innovative and always reactive, their software upgrades are the same.

        When you run a sole source shop you limit innovation as seen by the market share that came from the open source PC market. It was the one marketing downfall Jobs could never let go of.

    • Bob Armstrong
  • Anonymous

    I pay my respects but I will never deify him as being messianic except to the throngs of fanboi’s who think the sun revolved around him.

  • Anonymous

    I heard they interrupted  TV shows. That’s a bit much for a ‘guy’.

  • Peter X

    I’m a huge Apple fan and was saddened to hear the news about Jobs, but I agree 100% with Sheik’s post.

    Side note: Rick….can you please….oh please….stop writing with ellipses where common punctuation should be….please?

  • Anonymous

    One reason why I think there’s been a big reaction is that Jobs represented the best side of American innovation, making devices that captured the world like Morse, Edison, Bell, Philo Farnsworth and Chester Carlson did.

  • Anonymous

    One reason why I think there’s been a big reaction is that Jobs represented the best side of American innovation, making devices that captured the world like Morse, Edison, Bell, Philo Farnsworth and Chester Carlson did.

  • http://2011.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

    I have bought exactly two Apple products in my entire life. The first was an iPod Touch last November, because I was considering getting a smartphone and I’d read that the Touch was practically an iPhone, lacking only the ability to connect directly to a cell network. Two months later I had my iPhone.

    I didn’t buy either item because of Steve Jobs, except to the extent he had anything to do with the design and capabilities. The next smartphone I buy may run Android or Windows Phone, especially if my overall experience with my current phone proves mostly negative by the time I’m considering replacing it. (I don’t still have the iPod; I gave it to my mother-in-law, who claims to love it. She, however, is on only her second cell phone, I think, in God only knows how many years, so it may be a while before she goes for a smart one.)

    If I went by what I read about Apple-user culture and the Cult of Steve, I would conclude I must be an exception to an otherwise ironclad rule. I rather suspect the opposite. I like my iPhone for one reason only: it’s a damn useful piece of equipment.

    (And thank heavens for Disqus; for some reason Firefox closed spontaneously as I was writing that last paragraph, but Disqus saved the content and I was able to finish.)

  • http://2011.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

    I have bought exactly two Apple products in my entire life. The first was an iPod Touch last November, because I was considering getting a smartphone and I’d read that the Touch was practically an iPhone, lacking only the ability to connect directly to a cell network. Two months later I had my iPhone.

    I didn’t buy either item because of Steve Jobs, except to the extent he had anything to do with the design and capabilities. The next smartphone I buy may run Android or Windows Phone, especially if my overall experience with my current phone proves mostly negative by the time I’m considering replacing it. (I don’t still have the iPod; I gave it to my mother-in-law, who claims to love it. She, however, is on only her second cell phone, I think, in God only knows how many years, so it may be a while before she goes for a smart one.)

    If I went by what I read about Apple-user culture and the Cult of Steve, I would conclude I must be an exception to an otherwise ironclad rule. I rather suspect the opposite. I like my iPhone for one reason only: it’s a damn useful piece of equipment.

    (And thank heavens for Disqus; for some reason Firefox closed spontaneously as I was writing that last paragraph, but Disqus saved the content and I was able to finish.)

  • http://2011.ak4mc.us/ McGehee

    I have bought exactly two Apple products in my entire life. The first was an iPod Touch last November, because I was considering getting a smartphone and I’d read that the Touch was practically an iPhone, lacking only the ability to connect directly to a cell network. Two months later I had my iPhone.

    I didn’t buy either item because of Steve Jobs, except to the extent he had anything to do with the design and capabilities. The next smartphone I buy may run Android or Windows Phone, especially if my overall experience with my current phone proves mostly negative by the time I’m considering replacing it. (I don’t still have the iPod; I gave it to my mother-in-law, who claims to love it. She, however, is on only her second cell phone, I think, in God only knows how many years, so it may be a while before she goes for a smart one.)

    If I went by what I read about Apple-user culture and the Cult of Steve, I would conclude I must be an exception to an otherwise ironclad rule. I rather suspect the opposite. I like my iPhone for one reason only: it’s a damn useful piece of equipment.

    (And thank heavens for Disqus; for some reason Firefox closed spontaneously as I was writing that last paragraph, but Disqus saved the content and I was able to finish.)

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been seriously considering changing my name to stevejobsisdead.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKR2RKOYZKTBYKK6J6SJMDU2NA James C

    I betcha if it was Bill Gates who died instead of Jobs, we wouldn’t be seeing this kind of over-fawning we are getting this week.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    Yet one more story where the old media is covering for Obama, the Jobs-killin’ President, y’all.

  • Anonymous

    I found the juxtaposition of trust-fund babies protesting “the man” while clinging to iPhones et.el crated by the very “man” they claim to hate, endlessly ironic, and not just a little humorous.

  • Anonymous

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man.  Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people.  Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

    This is known as ‘bad luck.’ ” - Robert Heinlein
    Jobs started his company in his adoptive parent’s garage. By the time he died Apple had more cash on hand than the federal government. They never received a cent in subsidies or bailouts. He created more wealth and affected more lives than celebrities like Kim Kardashian, or politicians like Geraldine Ferraro, or media icons like Walter Cronkite, and certainly more than anyone contributing to this site. None of them compares in importance to the folks who invented television, for example, who are less remembered than Rudolph Velentino.

    Innovators and creators like Jobs usually do not receive enough credit. He was not Nikolai Tesla, but he was an important figure for reasons of substance, unlike many others celebrated for their cleavage, or for occupying media air time, or, like Paris Hilton, for nothing. Jobs was only 56. There was the possibility of his doing so much more, had he lived, that will now not happen. That was part of it, too.

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