Thursday, October 6, 2011

On the Death of Steve Jobs

Since yesterday, the Internet and the old media news outlets have been all abuzz over the death of Steve Jobs, cofounder and recently retired chairman of Apple. (I almost said Apple Computer, but they dropped the "Computer" part after the iPod became all the rage roughly a decade ago.) You're probably wondering what I think of the man. Sure, he was a visionary and all that, but he adapted to the system more than nearly anyone knew. Over the years I found myself appalled to find a John Lennon turning into a Bill Gates (and I mean the hated, ruthless Gates of the '90s). I should mention that though the first computer I ever used was a Radio Shack TRS-80, the first I ever truly loved was the Apple II. From the fateful year of 1984 on, I was a confirmed Macintosh cultist. And yet I was this poor kid who could never afford a computer of my own until I got a hand-me-down IBM Personal System/2 from my grandfather. Running Windows 3.1. That was in 1998, when I was already in my twenties.

Why did Jobs and Gates end up blurring together in my fevered brain? It was their management style, which is of course business standard. Capitalism is a very dog-eat-dog system. "Social Darwinism" may not apply to humans, but it sure as hell applies to corporations. It's my opinion, probably idiosyncratic, that corporations are private governments. The corporate world is a world made up entirely of absolute monarchies, all eternally at war with all the rest. Business, as they say, is war. But this is a war with no end and no victory, I probably could never have made it in business. I may have a bit of a vindictive streak, but I'm no general.

Steve Jobs is being hailed as a genius and a visionary, and I don't doubt any of it. The President hails him. The stars hail him. His competitors, enemies, and ex-friends all hail him. If I were to add one more encomium, I would only be adding one more echo to an already deafening echo chamber.

During the middle of July last year, as I was failing once again to complete my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel during JulNoWriMo, I dropped it the moment the inspiration came to me. It turned out, of course, to be the "deadly distant beginning" to Chaos Angel Spanner, my long neglected manga project set (since 1994) in 2014, which was now morphing into a long five-volume novel. It now had a new name, thanks to TV Tropes: Press the Reset Button. The next thing I wrote was the first chapter, "Spanner in the Works". The chapter began as a story idea I worked on in my Project Notebooks in the years between 1999 and my discovery of NaNoWriMo in 2006. It was a riff on the 1984 Macintosh commercial. Then I remembered the entire history and development of Apple after 1984, and I realized — 2014 will be like "1984"! So I drafted the man himself into the novel, or more accurately his image, as if he were a fictional character (which in 2014 he now is). The rest was easy.

The chapter has expanded since then. The original chapter is now the fourth installment. It is now in its final form, now that the man whose face is on the screen has died. It's called "Enter the Monkeywrench". Read it here..

RIP STEVE JOBS 1955-2011

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