The Memory of Steve Jobs

An awful lot has been written about Steve Jobs in the days since his passing. From the tech blogs to the mainstream media, all have covered his death copiously and respectfully.

One such heartfelt and carefully crafted piece of writing is by M.G.Siegler in his Tech crunch blog. However, he makes a statement which, no matter how high an opinion of Steve Jobs I may have, I simply can’t subscribe to…

He’s someone who will be talked about a thousand years from now.

In trying to grapple with the concept of an individual’s influence surviving over a millennium, I struggle to get past saints, kings, or other biblical figures. Steve Jobs was none of these (Cult of the Mac, notwithstanding).

Granted, a thousand years ago the world was in the Dark Ages and the concept of fame, or even an historical legacy, would be alien to most folk of that time. By contrast, we live in an age of data overload, where any Tom, Dick or Harriet leaves a huge digital footprint ranging from official records to social networking. Perhaps the written word and a healthy respect for history will mean our descendants will retain a much firmer grip on our strories than we have of our ancestors. There’s an awful lot of history to be written in the next thousand years though.

If – and I think it is a remote If, given how much can happen in the next thousand years – Steve Jobs is remembered, I dread to think how folklore will mangle his story. Steve Jobs invented the computer? Steve Jobs invented the internet? the telephone? music? the printed word? Steve Jobs managed Elvis? Steve Jobs negotiated music rights with Beethoven? Steve Jobs was the Messiah?

Sorry, as important as Steve Jobs unquestionably was during our fleeting time on Earth, in a thousand years I’m afraid his Wikipedia entry will have long been over-written.

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One thought on “The Memory of Steve Jobs

  1. Jim says:

    I disagree slightly in so much as because we all have this great digital signature these days there is so much more to remember us by and so much of a record to look back upon. I think a fair comparison would perhaps be with, in British terms, IK Brunel – inventor of nothing, perfecter (in the context of the times) of many things.

    Perhaps those many generations in the future will look back from the stars and think about their history and how they got there and maybe, somewhere, some scholar will happen upon the now celebrated commencement address at Stanford, and think, who was this man? And maybe that scholar, looking back with a thousand years of hindsight, will consider this infancy of the computer age, not yet a hundred years old, and come to realise that it was Steven Jobs and his company who put the computer at the heart of everyday lives for the first time.

    Still I think of all the tributes I have read this week, The Onion summed it up the best “… the only American in the country who had any clue what the fuck he was doing, died Wednesday at the age of 56.” Indeed.

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