Thursday, October 6, 2011

First Reaction

In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross describes the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  But when I heard the news of Steve Jobs's death yesterday, my first reaction was definitely anger.  I had just come up with a decent bit of Steve Jobs-related humor, and spent at least several minutes tinkering in Photoshop to produce it.  (See below.)  Why couldn't he have waited a week?

But after further reflection, I realized something important.  Really, The Tech Curmudgeon comes from many years of watching technology, especially computers and software, evolve and grow in importance.  I've seen computers go from highly specialized equipment that requires climate-controlled rooms with raised floors to devices that many of us carry in our pockets.

Throughout this period, the vendors of technology have always been all too eager to sell us whatever gadget or innovation they can devise, with no regard for consequences. Ever gotten a spam email?  Or a virus? Ever cursed at a gadget or piece of software for being too difficult to use, or too unreliable? Ever noticed that you spend more time maintaining your computer than you do using it? Technology vendors have always gone for the bells and whistles, rather than for the satisfying experience.

They just didn't get that computers are not mops or toasters or even coffee makers. We don't merely use computers.  We have relationships with them. They're life partners!

But Steve Jobs got it.  If he's known for anything, it's for the sheer elegance of Apple's products. The whole field of user experience design is illuminated by these products and the concept they realize of bringing joy, and not just utility, to the user.  With the passing of Steve Jobs, the world has lost its greatest exponent of technology joy, and product joy in general.

Which means The Tech Curmudgeon will have a lot more material.

Ok, here's the somewhat lame and now thoroughly tasteless bit of humor ...


DavidD said...

Peter, how right you are to say that we have relationships with our computer. I've been a Mac user since 1985 and *many* of my personal and professional friendships over the years were based around the Mac. I endured the anti-Apple barbs of the mid 90s and saw command line PC users grudgingly evolve into GUI users. Steve gave us much to use and enjoy. Are Mac users like a religious cult? Well, I feel like I am as well as many of my friends over the years. When you have a great product and understand its use, why not? Thanks for the article.

Unknown said...

Thanks, D. See today's post about the cult aspects of it.