The man in the machine

Have you noticed how many people, as they reflect on Steve Jobs life, talk about their computing devices. One writer, noting this, says that it’s as if people feel that they have met Steve Jobs in the machines and gadgets his company created. It’s as if they know the man because of what he made. Heck, read my reflections on Steve’s death just below this post. I did exactly the same thing.

That’s worth reflecting on. I mean it really is. And it’s probably exactly what Jobs hoped for.

A good design is a form of art. Art is an expression of the creator. The better the art, the more clearly we see the creator, and the more deeply we enter into a conversation with the person who made it.

People have mentioned that Apple’s devices were among the first digital devices, certainly computers, to commonly elicit emotional responses. It’s why Apple defied the bullet point buyer that all the other technology companies chased. It wasn’t about what was included, and honestly it wasn’t about what was left out, it was about the response the device evoked in us. “Magical” ,“Transformative” ,“Fun”. It was about how the device changed who we are.

It’s art.

When you stop for moment to think about it, of course we reflect on who Steve Jobs was by talking about what he created. When a great painter, sculptor or writer dies, don’t we do exactly the same thing?

Because we know them through their art. That’s how we came into relationship with them, into conversation with them and it was how they changed us.

Our collective zeitgeist moment is telling us a deep truth. Art is all around us, and artists change the way we interact with our world.

Heh. Thanks for that Steve.

Author: Nick Knisely

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

4 thoughts on “The man in the machine”

  1. “It wasn’t about what was included, and honestly it wasn’t about what was left out, it was about the response the device evoked in us. “Magical” ,“Transformative” ,“Fun”. It was about how the device changed who we are.It’s art. … We reflect on who Steve Jobs was by talking about what he created. Because we know [him] through [his] art. That’s how we came into relationship with [him], into conversation with [him] and it was how [he] changed us.”

    Now, if only more of us could enter into the easy, familiar, personal relationship w/ God and God’s creation that we enjoyed (or felt we did) with Steve Jobs and his. And, though someone’s probably already done this, we’d need to re-write Genesis to account for the Apple as a vehicle, not of the Fall, but of redemption, and Steve J harrowing of the [Bill] Gates of [operating system] Hell…

    Perhaps I shouldn’t respond to blog posts before my first (or second) coffee of the AM…

    1. I remember doing a baptism for a child born to a Christian and a Jewish family. One of the gifts the child received from the Jewish relatives was blanket embroidered with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

      As a Christian, viewing the world through Augustinian eyes, I thought that was an odd gift. So I asked about it.

      I was told that in their tradition the act of eating the apple was when we became fully human. It wasn’t the breaking of the world, it was the beginning of human history. They saw it as fortunate – and just the sort of gift to give a baby to remind her of her place in the world.

      So, in response to your point Michael, it appears our elder brothers and sisters in Faith have beaten us to that. Heh!

  2. One of the key differences between Apple and most other technology companies (including Microsoft, Dell and HP) is that the typical technology company sells to corporate IT buyers. Apple sells to the individual. For years, as Apple’s market share shrank, this was seen as a problem. Now, I think it has become a strength. The other companies have been infected by the bureaucratic ethos and inertia of their customers. You can’t sell a piece of art to a corporate IT buyer. Nor can you sell technology decision that pushes the envelope a bit. It just isn’t possible.

    My wife is an artist. It is sometimes a trip to see the world through her eyes. She would tell you that we are all surrounded by art and design, whether we recognize it or not. Our clothes, our houses, our cars, our office buildings and our churches are all the product of a design process. Some of those designs enhance our lives while others degrade it. Some rise to the level of art, and others aren’t even close. Jobs did us all a service by calling our attention to the art in our lives.

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