If anybody should have been a fan of Steve Jobs and Apple, it was me. I used an early Macintosh computer at Presidio Middle School in 1987. I went to Reed College, where Jobs spent a semester and studied calligraphy. He spoke at the college’s convocation ceremony my freshman year, and the Reed computer lab was full of Macs and the black NeXTcubes that Jobs created in between his stints at Apple.
And yet I never became an Apple fanatic. In my eyes the iPod was unappealing, the iPhone unaffordable, the iPad unnecessary. I still don’t see why people would camp out overnight for them, and the fact that they do makes me begrudge the Apple products that I have—belatedly and without fanfare—adopted.
As an individual, I am embarrassed that I could have been so wrong (and peeved that my father seems to be unloading so much of my inheritance at the local Apple Store :). As an economist, I am delighted to live in a market-driven society where Jobs could be proven to be so right.
Update: Also worth reading is Mike Daisey’s “Against Nostalgia” (NY Times, Oct 6). I saw Daisey’s one-man show, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, when it came to Seattle earlier this year. Daisey’s show makes excellent food for thought, especially when combined with a view of the hardships I’ve seen here in China. (Many people work incredibly hard, and I can understand why they might see working long hard hours in a sweatshop making Apple products as a step up.) Intro macro classes could benefit greatly from chewing on these whole-wheat matters instead of just passing off the white-flour lessons about how trade benefits everyone, and I’m happy to say that my Cartoon Intro to Macro spends 3 chapters (Trade and Technology, The Classical View of Trade, and Complications) exploring these issues.
After living in Vietnam for three years, I am simultaneously impressed by the powers of the market and the energy that entrepreneurship can bring to developing countries but also the incredible amount of corruption, explotiation, and inequality it can foster. harnessing the power of the first and limiting the second is what it is all about. The problem is that academics in Western economies often only see the first.
Yoram, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve never been a Mac user. Throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years I cringed at the thought of using the Apple products in the computer labs. I love my Windows-based PC. And I definitely never followed Steve Jobs with the fervor that many people do. But when I saw the news of his death my heart sunk. I didn’t really understand why at first but I realized it was because of his influence and innovation that I realized that we were losing a very inspiring man. I started to realized that the things he believed in were extremely inspiring. And it concerns me that I don’t necessarily feel like we have a new group of innovators ready to take up the charge of changing the world.
Steve Jobs was not a leader promoting ‘happiness’ as an ecomonic factor. He followed a hierarchical leadership path. When he was not in the company it did not thrive. The people had not become leaders themselves and were lost when he left. Economically we are in the same mess after his efforts as before if not a worse mess. I look forward to the day when people who know how to nurture others are as acclaimed and monetarily rewarded as people who harness others efforts to their own genius. I hope that the optimizing individual will perceive the optimizing community in his/her consciousness