Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs and our predicament

In one of the Internet sites I formerly participated in I used to be termed "Cassandra" for my inveterate pessimism. So fair warning: I am in that mode this morning.

I take my starting point from one of the commentators on the premature death of Steve Jobs. This individual said that in some places today a few people were working in a garage on the Next Big Thing in the cyberworld. Well, I don't see any evidence for this claim. The wave of creativity in Silicon Valley that lifted us all in the closing years of the last century is not being carried forward.

Instead, we have disarray in most areas of American life, as anyone knows who has gone on a plane ride recently. In most economic sectors the US doesn't make things any more--at least not things that people want to buy. For its part, Washington DC has now attained total gridlock.

There is no need to go further with this recital: it is all too familiar. My fear is that the death of Steve Jobs is the end of an era. It is the era when innovative things worked, and the idea of customer service was vibrantly alive.

The Onion headline captures the situation perfectly: "Last American Who Knew What the Fuck He Was Doing Dies."

The spoof continues with a fake quotation from President Obama:

"Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Computers and the only American in the country who had any clue what the fuck he was doing, died Wednesday at the age of 56. "We haven't just lost a great innovator, leader, and businessman, we've literally lost the only person in this country who actually had his shit together and knew what the hell was going on," a statement from President Barack Obama read in part, adding that Jobs will be remembered both for the life-changing products he created and for the fact that he was able to sit down, think clearly, and execute his ideas—attributes he shared with no other U.S. citizen. "This is a dark time for our country, because the reality is none of the 300 million or so Americans who remain can actually get anything done or make things happen. Those days are over." Obama added that if anyone could fill the void left by Jobs it would probably be himself, but said that at this point he honestly doesn’t have the slightest notion what he’s doing anymore."



Blogger Thomas Kraemer said...

Although I agree that somebody might be "working in a garage on the Next Big Thing," I also believe there is a higer chance that this person is outside of the U.S. (Is this being pessimistic about America or optimistic about the rest of the world?)

Also, the legend of Hewlett-Packard being started by Bill and Dave in a Silicon Valley garage was copied by Apple Computer in the 1970's by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (who both had jobs at HP) -- is this just a romantic marketing slogan that means little and which can be used again even if America declines?

If America declines, then I am betting that it will decline in the same way that Germany declined during the 20th Century -- Germany is still a great country, but it has fallen behind the U.S. since the World Wars.

12:56 PM  

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