With the loss of Steve Jobs, there are likely to be hundreds, if not thousands of books, articles, documentaries, and more about his life and times. It’s likely that everyone has his or her own “Apple” story. I can remember when I was newly out of college my first large-scale programming project was done on a Lisa II. It was a program coded in BASIC, designed to read a map from two reference points, access census data, and report back demographic information useful for governments, retailers, and newspaper writers interested in certain aspects of population densities like where the wealthiest lived or what were the best towns for singles to live in. I loved that little computer.
I can also recall a July 4th weekend, reading about Apple’s upcoming IPO in the New York Times. Apple was being offered for $7/share. With no cash of my own, I called my father, a stockbroker, and recommended that he buy as much Apple stock as he could. He asked me to explain why, I tried, but alas, my father never bought the stock. And so it goes. That’s life.
Today, almost 30 years later, when I walk into an Apple store, I am always struck by how crowded it always is – no matter what time of day or night; people playing around with Apple products, delighted to sit for hours in front of the crisp screens and smooth keyboards.
When I read the alert last night that Steve Jobs had died, I personally felt sad. I didn’t know the man but I suppose that those of us, who have close ties to our Apple technology or have followed the progress of the company, associate closely with its inventor. But why - why do we feel so akin to him versus other CEOs of our time. One possible reason – from my vantage point at least, it seemed like he cared, he was passionate; he made a difference in a positive way. It seemed that his spirit was alive and bright and that he sparked aliveness in others. There was low Virtual Distance between him and his millions of followers. People praised him for many things – especially his ability to engage and enliven an audience. But moreover, he seemed to appreciate the human being – the person behind the screen. At least that’s the way it seemed to me.
And that’s the connection that I hope to remain most loyal to through the Virtual Distance Institute and our continued efforts. We are people – connected via technology but joined together through our humanity. No matter our device of choice, behind the black curtain is a living, breathing person, who feels joy and sorrow, stress and relief, love and pain. It is not the relationship with the device that matters. It is the relationship with each other – the connections to our selves. And while Steve Jobs revolutionized our technical connections, making them more fun, it is the human spirit that keeps us truly close.
Good-bye Mr. Jobs, or shall I call you Steve? You will be missed.