Steve Jobs Biography: Issacson’s Viewpoint Shapes Former Apple CEO


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One of the most respected personas in an age of technological superiority, former Apple CEO and innovator Steve Jobs may have lessened the praise of his fans and critics with his recent self-titled biographical release.

Written by Walter Issacson, a former editor for Time magazine, the book is a fascinating tale of the opinions, beliefs and irreplaceable viewpoints that Jobs possessed on many different subjects.

Most of the controversy surrounding the novel is based upon his depictions of our current commander-in-chief, his close rival at Microsoft, and also the person behind the scenes with the most operational power at Apple; VP of industrial design Jonathan Ive.

Spanning over the course of two years, the 571-page dialogue covers nearly everything both Jobs and Issacson experienced from 2009 to 2011. Issacson, being one of Jobs’ biggest supporters, seized the opportunity to write a book on the enigmatic business figure quickly after realizing that Jobs’ time left with the public may being coming to a close.

“I just listened,” Issacson muttered, in a recent Associated Press (AP) release on his time spent with the one-of-a-kind Apple leader. Issacson went on to mention that Jobs was an incredible storyteller, often crafting fables that were familiar, but distinctive in slight variations, and just enough to keep people interested. Tales that were so unique, it made you wonder whether or not his time should be invested in written publication.

But with over 40 conversations under his belt, Issacson quickly concluded that he’d been in a two-year relationship with one of the most dynamically complex, and often mischaracterized technology buffs the world has ever seen.

“There are parts of his life and personality that are extremely messy, and that’s the truth,” Issacson said in an interview with Washington Post, after the book’s release on October 24th. “You shouldn’t whitewash it. He’s good at spin, but he also has a remarkable story, and I’d like to see that it’s all told truthfully.”

Jobs has continuously received praise for his accomplishments — from the first Apple computer to the iPod series — and it’s hard to label Jobs as anything but undeniably intelligent. But it’s intriguing to measure his brilliance when dissecting his diction in his biography, and also Bill Gates, whom he labels as “unimaginative,” and someone who has “shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

But from Issacson’s recent involvement in a dinner conversation with Jobs, readers may begin to ponder if Jobs may in fact be the more uninspired pioneer.

“I remember having dinner with him a few months ago around his kitchen table. Someone brought up one of those brain teasers involving a monkey having to carry a load of bananas across a desert. Mr. Jobs tossed out a few intuitive guesses but showed no interest in grappling with the problem rigorously. I thought about how Bill Gates would have gone click-click-click and logically nailed the answer in 15 seconds. But then something occurred to me: Mr. Gates never made the iPod. Instead, he made the Zune.”

In what seems to be a subtle comparison between the personality types of the two visionaries, it’s intriguing to examine the difference between ingenuity and intellect. Although some would consider the two words to be synonymous, I argue that we should take the time to make a brief comparison between Jobs and Gates, and two other popular poker players to comprehend this dichotomy.

Jobs, an instinctive innovator, spent most of his years at Apple taking imaginative leaps within the world of technology to capture what consumers wanted, whether they had seen it before or not. Never being the type to mull over past mistakes, it was the spontaneous and visceral risks that captivated audiences every time Jobs took the stage in revealing an Apple product.

Gates, leaning towards a more analytical reproach, would be more likely to spend countless hours apprasing potential outcomes for each solution, than deciphering a world-renowned novelty answer that amazes the populace. It even shows in the evolution of Microsoft: this company that has become the marquee name in a business sector in which Gates unfortunately can’t lay claim to creating.

Phil Ivey and Phil Galfond (oddly sharing the same name) couldn’t be closer to these two businessmen in their approach to poker. Ivey, who is characterized by his fearless actions and instinctive reads, often leaves us wondering how a player who seemingly studies so little can be so skillful at his craft. Galfond, whose claim to fame relies on his analytic superiority and restless reflection, relates more closely to Gates because of his preference to explore the annals of experience in order to lead to the most sensible solution.

Conventional learning or experimental wisdom may be more fitting for the characterization of Gates and Jobs respectively, and despite Jobs’ words, both men have their place in technological history.

Our president, Barack Obama, also didn’t go without receiving some criticism from the opinionated Jobs. Stating that the White House executive was “headed for a one-term presidency,” he insisted the first African-American president be more business-friendly, and also reduce “unnecessary costs” that make American manufacturing less productive than overseas outsourcing.

Despite his comments, Jobs did wish to support Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Ive, also known as “Jony” amongst the coworkers at Apple, may now be the balance of creativity and applicable sensibility in Jobs’ absence. Ive has earned the role of being the executive who arguably has the most power aside from recently appointed CEO Tim Cook.

“There’s no one who can tell him what to do, or to butt out. That’s the way I set it up,” said Jobs in his biography.

Recently, Ive has stepped out of the shadow of Steve Jobs and has emerged to abolish the belief that Apple cannot innovate in the departure of its creator. Being the chief industrial designer, Ive has been instrumental in the progression of the company’s products, including Apple’s most popular product the iPhone.

“He understands what we do at our core better than anyone,” Jobs told Issacson. “If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it’s Jony.”

It’s commonplace to digest the lyrics of some of the brightest minds in entertainment and technology as superfluous or underdeveloped. However, Apple’s advantage, and also America’s, is that we’re engulfed in a culture that’s immersed in freedom of speech. Although Jobs’ words will not go without inspection, we would be unimaginative ourselves if we didn’t look at his biography as a sign of our current environment. Being able to function within the confines of our own imagination, is what creates real originality.

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