Whoa. I can’t say I was surprised at the announcement this week, but I was surprised by my reaction. First, the disclaimer: I’m not quite an Apple fanboy, but I’m pretty close. Still, while I appreciated the role Steve Jobs played in the Apple mystique, I feel I’ve always been pretty centered in the sense that I knew Apple was more than simply an outlet for Steve’s creative energy. There are lots of very smart people there, empowered to some extent by the single-minded attention to the experience that was promulgated by their CEO, granted, but there’s more than one voice contributing to that chorus. I continue to have faith.
But the announcement, and later contemplation, brought tears. For someone I’d never met, never dreamed of meeting. Someone about whom I’d heard both good and bad, about the creative genius and the autocratic despot. In Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series, the main character becomes a “Speaker for the Dead”, someone who speaks the truth about the departed, good and bad, without regard for politics or social subtleties. To accomplish that end, the Speaker had to become intimately familiar with who the deceased truly was, a sometimes awkward and even painful exercise. But the catharsis, the clarity, provided by this feat, simultaneously epic and humble, incorporated an intrinsic value: truth. I hope we have Speakers to remind us who this flawed and yet amazing person really was.
Steve and I share a birthday. There’s a year between us, but it’s still strange to see that date in print, to grasp that he’s gone, to mourn the loss and at the same time appreciate the life he led and the impact he had. Indulging in a bit of geeking out, I watched the original iPhone keynote, re-experiencing the feeling that the earth was moving, just a little bit, as he described those capabilities that are now considered table stakes.
I look forward to feeling the earth move again, to be surprised and inspired. I have a taste for it now.