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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Jobs changed technology but doesn’t deserve the hype


I’ll be the first to admit I’m a fan of Steve Jobs’ products; I love my iPhone.

But over the past month, I’ve been subject to hour-long documentaries about Jobs, an autobiography released soon after his death, iPad candle-app vigils on the sidewalk of the Apple stores, the billboards, taxi toppers and window posters plastered with the “iconic” black and white image of a pensive Steve Jobs. It’s a bit much.

Now, before you tear up this paper in iRage, let me explain my reasons.

What is an icon? Ironically enough, the idea reminds me of the Apple “Think Different” campaign that began in 1997 when Jobs rejoined the company. One of the ad series consisted of black and white photos of various iconic figures in modern history.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Henson, Pablo Picasso, John Lennon and an undeserving Yoko Ono all had posters with the Apple tag line “Think Different.” I suppose now that Jobs has his own black and white photo, either Apple or Jobs himself considered him to be an icon.

There is no question that Jobs was a genius when it came to marketing and salesmanship. He took a small electronics division of LucasArts and turned it into Pixar.

He took a floundering company in Apple and turned it into a $100 billion enterprise.

Jobs achieved this success ultimately because he is a monopolist. All Apple accessories, like power chargers, must be purchased through Apple. All Apple software and hardware are not compatible with any other machine, such as external hard drives and printers. You can’t simply drag and drop music onto an iPod like you can with most other mp3 players, you must use the cumbersome iTunes program.

He also closes off an entire sector of the internet, anything that runs Adobe Flash, for people that use the iPhone or iPad.

Another reason is because he has tricked us with simplicity. Look at the Apple product line, so sleek and sexy. Everything is all in one, no removable parts or errant wires.

But when video editors, gamers or audiophiles need to upgrade their video or sound cards or processors, you cannot simply upgrade those parts. Instead you’re forced to purchase a brand new $1,800 rig and wait a year to buy another newer, equally expensive model.

There is a famous passage in Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs that recounts Jobs’ early criticism of Christianity. Jobs, age 13 at the time, asked his pastor during Sunday school if God knew about the children on the cover of Life magazine suffering of starvation in Africa. When the pastor responded yes, Jobs left and never returned to Christianity. He did not agree with a God that would allow such suffering.

This anecdote, although touching, is incredibly ironic considering China’s Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs released a study this year stating that a fair share of Apple’s products are assembled in sweat shops in Asia. The workers there use highly toxic cleaning chemicals to give Apple’s computers that special sheen, with multiple cases of workers being poisoned. Also, Greenpeace has been harping on Apple’s e-waste program for years now, saying that most of the e-waste from their recycling program is sent to unregulated landfills in Africa and Asia where the child labor is subjected to the toxic fumes and the dangerous environment that the recycling process entails.

To me, an icon is the exact opposite of this. An icon works to unite us for human progress, an icon lives within his means, an icon works to end suffering. All of those featured in the “Think Different” campaign are examples of those ideas.

But Steve Jobs? With all due respect to the man, he was just another guy that knew how to sell you something. America has plenty of those.

What we don’t have is an abundance of people like Caesar Chavez, Dr. King, or Malcolm X. Our John Lennons have been replaced by Justin Biebers; our Jim Hensons transformed into Spongebob. In this time of change it’s time to change our heroes, our icons.

Think Different, America.

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About the Contributor
Tom Rizza
Tom Rizza, Sports editor
Sports editor.

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Jobs changed technology but doesn’t deserve the hype