Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)

This review will probably invoke the wrath of many people. Fanboys will be upset that I haven’t bowed down to the altar of Steve Jobs, while haters will be upset that I haven’t cursed the name of Steve Jobs and everything that he touched. As I read the biography of Jobs, I found myself vacillating between a fanboy and a hater. At one point, I had to walk away from the book for several weeks, as I was so incensed at Jobs’ disdainful treatment of other people. When I returned to the book, it was with a sense of “what can I learn from this man, and how does he demonstrate the creativity of God?” In this review I will focus on Steve as a bearer of God’s image, and present a review of him in light of God’s image within him (whether he acknowledged God or not).

It is not overstated to claim that Steve Jobs changed the western world. Rarely a day goes by that we aren’t using a device or a technology that he directly created, improved or impacted. His creativity and ability to force change exceeds that of the great inventors of the past (Di Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Einstein, etc.). His creativity and attention to design within the technology is a tribute to the image of God. Steve Jobs lived in the intersection of technology and beauty and for that we can as Christians thank God for Steve Jobs.
And yet, as an individual, he was a narcissistic megalomaniac. I found myself wondering why the man was never institutionalized for his crude behavior and unnecessarily harsh treatment of other people. Although I admire many of the products he created or improved, I struggle with his failure to acknowledge or even encourage other people and found myself hating Steve at points for his berating, condescending and compassionate-less treatment of other people. I can not as a follower of Jesus recommend Steve Jobs as a model of leadership because of his utter inability to acknowledge the roles other people played in his many successes and his tyrannical treatment of other people. Isaacson himself summarizes that Jobs’ ruthlessness towards others often hindered his ability to accomplish tasks.

Why I liked this book:

  • Steve had very little say in the development of this biography, allowing Isaacson to interview both friends and foes alike. Having said that, at times the phenomenon known as Steve Jobs’ “reality distortion field” is present. At times, Steve could simply bend and force reality to become what he envisioned it to be.
  • We can always learn from the stories of other people, be they good, bad or indifferent. Steve Jobs changed the world and the way we envision the world. Along the way, he hurt many people. In our attempts to change the world, may we do a better job.
  •  As an educator I’m intrigued by Steve Jobs assessment that education would be the next major area impacted by technology. Although we don’t know what that looks like, we are hopeful that eDOT will be on the leading-edge using technology in education for the glory of God.