Sometimes when we speak of creators like Steve Jobs, a little voice inside me hopes that people realize that Steve did not "create" the iPad, iPhone or iPod.
That's no knock against Jobs. It's just that saying Steve Jobs "made" the iPad is kinda like saying George Lucas made "The Empire Strikes Back." It's kinda complicated. And it may even be "less true" than the George Lucas analogy -- we'll never really know unless we were intimately involved.The Empire Strikes Back
might be the best parallel I can think of to unpack this thorny issue. Did you know that George Lucas did not direct
Empire Strikes Back? (He decide to hire his professor from USC film school to do it.) He also did not write the screenplay for Empire. And of course, he wasn't the cinematographer, he didn't design the spaceship models, alien characters, or costumes and he didn't compose the music. But he oversaw all the people who did that work, and he came up with the story. So we say the "Empire Strikes Back" is his. That's "true," of course. But it also shortchanges the contributions of all those involved.
Now I'm a fan of "Steve's" work -- but what that really means is I'm a fan of everything Apple achieved and produced under his leadership. I'm also a fan of the culture he created at Apple, as I noted here (http://bit.ly/ubAf1G
) More than anything, though, I admire some of the things he said about life -- such as the sentiments expressed in his Stanford graduation speech. I'd met him a few times when I was with MySpace and we were discussing iTunes - MySpace music partnerships, and he struck me as an interesting individual. That said, I don't subscribe to the idea that Apple could never have succeeded without him, or that everything that happened there was a result of his genius. You might say "Steve Jobs" is a metonymy for Apple.
I almost didn't share this article because of the bombastic headline. (I wish the writer wouldn't have felt the need to do that.) But I thought it was worth sharing because it might help us to remember all the hard work and people behind the creations we love -- whether its a piece of technology, a film, or a website. The quotes from Jonathan Ive are from the new Jobs biography which came out last night. I got my copy, but just started reading. :-)