The New Yorker on Apple at 40

'No novelist could have invented Steve Jobs.'

Two excerpts from Joshua Rothman's thoughtful retrospective:

"Apple’s history starts with the fact that it tried to take on the complexities of taste—and did so from within an industry that is deeply hostile to it. Especially in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, the tech sector demanded a utilitarian plainness, an ostentatious unpretentiousness, in its products—values that Apple rejected. Often, Apple’s detractors and fans, while arguing, on some level, about technical details, also ended up arguing about the cultural nuances of taste. For decades, it was common for tech commentators to accuse Apple of frivolity and élitism, and to criticize it for playing “the fashion game”—a coded criticism, because good taste is often seen as feminine, and the world of technology was imagined as a utilitarian, masculine domain...

"Steve Jobs’s story is, similarly, often told in familiar terms that don’t quite capture what really made him interesting. In business books, Jobs is presented as a visionary management guru; in Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle’s recent film, he’s cast in the stock role of a flawed genius seeking redemption. But what was fascinating about Jobs doesn’t fit into either of those narratives. Jobs was a stylishly dorky Buddhist technophile, an egomaniacal hippie minimalist, a sentimentally mercurial aesthete hard-ass, a Zen perfectionist, an adopted son who denied, but later accepted, the paternity of his daughter. No novelist could have invented Steve Jobs."

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3 Comments

  1. Richard Wanderman said:
    Excellent piece, I enjoyed reading it this morning.

    0
    April 3, 2016

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