Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nothing New Under the Sun?

Our grand-children may never know what either one was for.

I read  a short story* in high school, set in the not too distant future, where over-population was such a problem, society had resorted to intentional and organized mass disaster.  Every year, on the appointed day, the government would cause an oil refinery fire, collapse a busy bridge, etc. as a form of population control.  Eventually, these disasters became a national spectator sport.  Like the Olympics of Death. 

For weeks up to the event, people would talk and speculate about what they thought would happen this time.  And how they themselves would be safe.  But, boy watching from a distance would be fun.  The year in which our story is set, was no different.  Everyone gathered around to watch.  Imagine Monday Night Football in a bar.  Or a royal wedding, or an inauguration.  Everyone, watching, waiting, anticipating...  Then all of the televisions exploded.

Do you have an iPod in your pocket, an iPhone in your purse, an iPad in front of you?

As most of you know, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and the creator of all things i, died last week.  Most of you know, because most of you cared, at least a little.  And not in a fellow-human sort of way, but because Steve Jobs had in impact on your life.

By contrast, someday, Bill Gates will die.  He will be remembered as a genius and a great philanthropist.  But no one will care the way they care about Steve Jobs.  And, why not?  Bill Gates has touched as many of our lives as Steve Jobs has.  Probably more.  Anyone reading this has used a Microsoft product.  But no one has ever said they love their Microsoft Word.  There is something about the i line of products that has wooed us.  Infiltrated our daily lives.  Made us happy.  In little tiny increments, like a successful level of Angry Birds.  And, we keep coming back for more.  Because it makes us happy.  In little tiny increments.  And, we keep coming back.  Because it makes us happy.

Bill Gates and Microsoft were sued for anti-trust violations.  All Bill Gates wanted to do was corner the market.  Steve Jobs, I've often joked, wanted to take over the world.  And an argument can be made that he did. 

My mother was born before television.  When I found that out, it blew my six-year-old mind.  She might as well have told me there was a time without cars, or electricity, or running water.  That's how much Steve Jobs changed the world.  I can't wait to regale my children and grand-children with tales of the pre-i world.  Well, okay, the old iMac was just marketing, in sorority girl colors.  But, the iPod and iPhone were true innovations. 

And if anyone ever figures out a way to blow them all up, we are in big trouble.  Just sayin'.

[*I can not remember the name of this story.  I thought it was written by woman named Ute Hagen, but the only one of those I am able to find was an actor and wrote about acting.  There could, of course, have been another Ute Hagen, but since she can not be found on internet, she no longer exists.]


  1. His impact is too big for me to grasp. It's surreal, yet 4 out of the 5 people in my house have an iPod, and 1 has an iPad.

    Your contrast between Jobs and Gates - interesting; something to think about.

  2. Wow! I do love my Windows 7 computer, though. Everything imusic has infiltrated our lives, but none of us has an ipad or an iphone. It's interesting. I was watching the news yesterday. One story was about the protests against the gap between the rich and poor in New York, and the other story, the very next one, was about the huge lineups for the iphone 5. We do live in interesting, ever contrasting times!