It’s been kind of an emotional roller coaster week in the geek world. The cautious optimism of the “Arrested Development” return and my own personal excitement about seeing Weird Al last night (which I’ll get to in its own post soon) were suddenly overshadowed by the loss of one of the most influential geeks in history, Steve Jobs.
And yes, I see the irony in jumping on the very trendy bandwagon of eulogizing a man whose motto was “Think Different”. But hey, sometimes you have to think the same, for just a moment, to see the value of thinking different.
I’m not cool enough to be an Apple fanboy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my MacBooks more than any other computers I’ve ever owned, and I seldom go anywhere without my iPod, but I don’t have an iPad or an iPhone (partially because I’m relatively broke, and partially because I’m already so addicted to the internet that I don’t really need said internet to follow me everywhere I go). I never watched the keynotes, although I often monitored everyone’s reactions pretty closely on Twitter and Facebook. So I don’t quite fit into the Apple Fanboy Cool Kids Club, but I’m still a casual-to-pretty-big fan of many of the company’s products. I am, however, a MASSIVE Pixar fanboy (although I have yet to see “Cars 2”, but one movie’s not going to change my opinion of the studio as a whole).
Even when we enjoy the works of these companies, we sometimes lose focus on exactly *how much* they influenced the world. Even if you don’t use a Mac, so much of what you take for granted on your computer is there because Apple tried it out first. And of course, one only needs to glance at a couple of kids films from the past fifteen years to see how Pixar changed cinema. All because both companies took risks nobody else would take. Sure, not EVERY risk paid off, and the innovations from both of these companies often led to inferior imitators, but that shouldn’t detract from the undeniable successes.
I never knew much about Steve Jobs, the man, until recently, when I started reading up on him after he stepped down. I immediately understood why so many people look up to him, the same way I look up to people like Jim Henson and Walt Disney. (Though I certainly hope his companies stay a bit truer to his vision than Henson’s and Disney’s have at times since they left us.) The man was a true creative genius, never settling for doing things the way they’re “supposed” to be done, always seeking innovation. Most importantly, he didn’t act victimized by his setbacks, instead making the most of every challenge and turning it into an opportunity. What did he do when he lost his job at the company he co-founded? He launched *two* other companies, one of which was freaking Pixar, the other of which led to him getting hired back at the first one AND becoming CEO. That’s a crowning moment of awesome if I ever heard one.
Obviously, I don’t admire or condone every single thing that Steve Jobs did, but his overall legacy is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I wish I could be one-tenth as driven as he was about my own creative projects, and I hope I’ll remember to take his advice–to make sure I live each day to its fullest, and to Think Different whenever possible.