Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Uncle Steve" Jobs

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Much has been said and written about Steve Jobs after his death this past Wednesday. Having never known him personally, never even having worked at Apple, the only connection I have to him is as an Apple customer and stockholder. That said, many of my contemporaries and I feel almost as if we've lost a beloved but distant uncle. Growing up in Silicon Valley, the legend of Apple's first first "run" with the Apple II and Macintosh is eclipsed only by the legend of the rebirth of Apple with the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. I was still a small child when Johs graduated from the high school just south of the one I would attend a decade later, but I hit middle school about the time the Apple II emerged and I well recall the sheer joy of using a computer with color, speed (for its time), and floppy disks rather than cassette tapes.

So, in many ways, Steve Jobs was the author of my childhood obsession with computers. Perhaps that is why I and others of my generation mourn his passing so much.  The passion he brought to technology, the conviction that technology not only could but would change the world, is one that he lived out with single-minded determination.

This is not to say that Jobs was a saint. At least one blogger has some very pointed criticism of him, much of it on target. He was often ruthless in his pursuit of excellence. His desire to see his biography published so that "my kids will know me better" signals that, like many in Silicon Valley, he had the tendency to prioritize job over family. However, his genius for designing technology that people could (and did) fall in love with is unmatched in modern-day America. His famous commencement address at Stanford University ranks among the best ever.

Though I didn't know him, I use Apple technology almost every minute of every day. I wake up to the alarm from my iPhone, check my calendar on that same iPhone, work every day on a MacBook Pro, use my iPad to watch videos and read books, and pretty much just love Apple products with a passion. I hope that I can increasingly take this passion and "can do" spirit into my job as a clergy leader as well.