I have seen it referenced a couple of times in the What’cha Reading threads, but it seems like it warrants a bit more attention…anyone else read it?
I got it as a gift. Typical, excellently-rendered bio by Isaacson - say what you will about the protagonist, Isaacson makes the book supremely readable and those of us who lived through it - I grew up in Silicon Valley, worked at HP as my first job out of school, etc. - will find it very familiar. So, simply as a book about a person who made a big impact, it delivers and can be recommended as such.
Now - about Steve Jobs. He is portrayed as the answer to the question “what if you could prove that being a self-absorbed, asshole narcissist douchebag created great value?”
There is a statement by another poster in one of the What’cha Reading threads that basically says “it shows that Jobs was an asshole and Woz was the creative force” - that entirely misses the point of the book. Woz was a tactical computer genius who could design extremely efficient, versatile circuits. Woz had NO idea how to package and sell them - Woz wasn’t even sure he wanted to package, let alone sell them. Jobs’ vision of a consumer (not geek hobbyist) computer tool that was part of a closed system that made it easy to use - that is the difference we see to this day. The “eco-systems” created for iPods, iPhones and iPads are the real, lasting innovations - along with the fact that, if you are trying to design a product to exist within the context of an eco-system, you can simple it down to it’s most essential functions. And again, Jobs is the force behind all of that - the focus on the eco-system and the tool within that context, and the design editing excellence that rendered the tools to be the revolutionary devices they have become.
But there is very little redeeming about Jobs as an individual. It is clear that his “reality distortion field” - his legendary ability to inspire people to accomplish more than they ever thought possible in far less time - was powerful indeed, on a work and personal front. Oh, and by the way, he is portrayed as, ultimately, a solid businessman. He spent a lot more time going over financials, trimming budgets and ensuring products where on time than you might realize.
The book makes a compelling case that he was as important to our world as the hype has painted him to be. But, like Picasso, his image seems to boil down to The Big Trade-Off - would you totally focus on yourself and treat those around you abusively, cruelly, steal ideas from them (to use them more effectively that they perhaps would’ve), etc, if you could be “that revolutionary guy”? Jobs is portrayed as thinking of himself that way from early on - he was as abusive to his doting parents as he was to others later in his life - and in his particular case, turned out to be right. But that’s a helluva a life to lead and it is so damaging at the same time it yields amazing creativity.
Definitely worth the read.