Steven Paul Jobs.

In the tech community (at least in the last five years) no one has been more discussed then Steve Jobs. Most people have a reaction to that name. To some it inspires innovation, creativity, and the drive to build something great. In the startup world many idolize him, thinking him the person to emulate in the search for success.

Others react negatively to the name, unhappy with his efforts to create solutions that offered little or no customization. Perhaps this is in regards Apple’s efforts at destroying the ability of tinkers and hardware hackers on Apple gear. Perhaps they want their software modifiable and oppose Apple’s antithetical stance. There are free software activists like RMS who believe Steve Jobs did more than any other individual to limit software freedoms. Stallman said:

Nobody deserves to have to die - not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs’ malign influence on people’s computing.

And then there are those who simply think he was an asshole, and his personality is enough to deflate his accomplishments.

Of course, as always, this black and white, good or bad, analysis doesn’t work. The dichotomy is easy, but a gross oversimplification.

I saw the Jobs movie this week starring Ashton Kutcher. I’ve been thinking, not about Steve Jobs himself, but rather about his effect on entrepreneurs and others in the tech community. When we discuss the other influential figures in the tech world this name comes up before any others. Surely, his passing has increased some of the stardom, the myth, and the hype. However, I’m not convinced other tech giants (think Gates, Bezos, Ellison, etc) will leave any type of similar posthumous effect on our field.

Inspiration is necessary in any creative field. When an idea is born, inspiration is what fuels it. As the creative process begins and product comes into existence the artist can begin to feed off the product itself. That joy of seeing something built motivates.

But in the space between an idea and product it is inspiration which motivates. I think this is why people are so drawn to the Jobs storyline: his will power to birth ideas was very strong. He wasn’t an engineer. He never wrote a line of code. But he could make an idea come to fruition. I’m not sure if it’s this, or a love of his products, or what exactly that fires up the Apple fans, but watching the Jobs movie does in fact leave you inspired. Inspired to create, to continue creating.

I think this creativity and inspiration is great. But I sure hope people don’t foolishly think they need to be an asshole to be succesful.

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