Thinking About ‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’

Thinking About ‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’ September 13, 2015

steve-jobs-man-machine

Over at CatholicVote, I offer some thoughts on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and on the new feature-length documentary about him, available in theaters and elsewhere.

Here’s a taste:

The fact that Jobs tried to deny his eldest child and was cruelly indifferent to her mother (despite having himself been conceived out of wedlock and then adopted); that he could be tyrannical, demanding and autocratic at work; that he was averse to sharing (credit, profits, etc.) and positively allergic to paying American taxes; or even that he used his wealth to put himself in a better position to get a liver transplant, came as no surprise.

But, the film is engrossing and bracingly honest — and filmmaker Alex Gibney is a Apple user — both about Jobs’ and Apple’s successes and numerous black eyes. It also goes into Jobs’ fascination with Asian culture and Zen Buddhism, which is ironic, considering that Chinese workers have suffered much to produce his products. It’s not unusual for people to admire a culture without actually admiring the humans that live in it, or merely cherrypicking the bits of it they like best.

To dig deeper into the history of computing, I’d recommend Tracy Kidder’s book “The Soul of a New Machine,” about the development of a seminal Data General minicomputer; the 1999 TV movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”; and journalist (and early Apple employee) Bob Cringely’s outstanding PBS miniseries “Triumph of the Nerds.”

(You can also read my recent two-part piece with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — click here and here for that.)

All that being said, here are some thoughts from the Jobs documentary:

Facepalm moment:

Daniel Kottke, Jobs’ friend and Apple colleague during the late ’70s and early ’80s, remarking on their search for enlightenment while on a four-month trek around India:

When you think about Hindu spirituality, you think of Mother Teresa, feeding the poor. That’s not really the path that Steve took. Those weren’t Steve’s values.

Oy.

Click here to read the rest.

Here’s the official trailer:

Image: Courtesy CNN Films/Jigsaw Productions

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