Monday, October 17, 2011

better late than never, eh?

Steve Jobs is dead. I know you’ve all heard about that. It was big news. Nerds cried, people who maybe didn’t even know they were nerds cried, the Onion had a headline that said “Last American Who Knew What the Fuck He Was Doing Dies” and generally, the whole thing was very sad. In what’s gotta be the most brilliant crosspurposing of a death ever, the new iPhone also just shipped, and it actually speaks to you, which, well, if you were the kind of person that thought of Steve Jobs as a father figure, there’s gotta be some sort of creepy comfort that you get from his last great gift to the world having a personality and voice. I heard Howard Stern this morning asking the new iPhone where he could get a handjob in Manhattan and the phone seemed to be happy to help him figure out where to go. That’s a good final bit of a legacy: a handjob providing, talking phone.

There’s no doubt about it, Steve Jobs was an important dude. Even if you dislike him or apple his footprint is gigantic. Ambitious people often set out to change the world, completely change an industry, and most of them don’t end up doing that at all. Steve Jobs revolutionized not only personal computing but also telecommunication, the music industry, the retail industry, publishing, turtlenecks, the whole deal. Like him or not, he was a visionary guy who shaped the world he lived in and it will likely be quite a while before someone else with that kind of vision and acumen comes along.

I have an iPhone. It’s got a broken screen. It’s kind of slow and it has, in no uncertain terms, destroyed my ability to just sit there and relax. I can’t just sit (or walk or even [and this is totally fucked up] drive or be on my computer) without having my phone right there just in case I need to check Twitter or get an email or a text or read an article or avoid doing pretty much anything that doesn’t involve staring into a tiny cracked screen. I no longer need to remember directions, phone numbers or to grab a camera, notebook, walkman, a watch or a personal gaming system (not that I fuck with video games, but you get the idea). I don’t need to talk to my friends because texting is so much more direct and requires less commitment. I’ve been in full on fights via text messaging, just because it’s less emotionally draining than talking on the phone to someone (and WAY less taxing than standing in a room together, yelling and punching walls and shit). You’ve got to imagine that the emotional numbing that these little devices provide is gonna have some twisted ramifications on humanity, right?

And that’s also the legacy of Steve Jobs. The personal phoneputer thingy that he so brilliantly put together is a marvel of human isolation. It’s also (and this is something that people tend to never discuss when they talk about the Steve Jobs legacy of invention, though it’s one of his most profitable ideas) built to break after a little while.

When the apple store in Chicago first opened I remember being shocked that they had recycling bins for ipods. Signs above the bins said something to the effect of “it’s been good to you, recycle it.” This was at a point where the oldest iPods in existence were about 2 years old. That’s fucking INSANE! I don’t want to sound like a grandpa or anything, but it used to be that if you paid hundreds of dollars for a device, that shit would last your lifetime. That was sort of WHY you paid that much for it. The notion that someone would sell you something designed to break after about two or three years (which is what iPods were [are] designed to do) so you, as an addicted consumer would have no choice but to upgrade to the newer version, is an insidiously brilliant strategy. And it’s no accident. We’re talking about a brilliant businessman and strategist and inventor. He invented disposable technology and, just to make sure that really careful people didn’t slip through the cracks, he built obsolescence into his devices as newer models appeared (changing the interface for the laptop power cable, for example).

So there you go. Before Apple, and the ipod and all these amazing, life changing devices, I believed that if I bought something for a lot of money, it would last forever. I also used to just sit there and look out the window of the bus. I don’t know if I was happier because I was just younger and more excited to exist than I am now, or if my new life full of things that are designed immerse me in a culture of information overload and ultimately to just up and break is just a darker, slightly sadder place, but one thing’s for sure. Things done changed. And until the Chuds come out of the sewers and/or the earth cleanses humans from its skin and we’re reduced to nomadic cannibal tribes (and that’s gonna suck balls), this is the life we got.

Wooooohooo.

23 comments:

Jacob William said...

The overall reaction from Apple fans during the last couple weeks has bordered on the downright creepy. And, I say that as someone who has used Macs (iPods, and an iPhone) his entire life. The "Cult of Apple," and the inverse reaction you get from Windows users is just weird. I get crying cause a family member, close friend or pet just died. But the guy who was the CEO of the company who made your phone and laptop? Really?

Mikey said...

I can't for the life of me figure out all the post-Jobs love.

One show I watched was comparing him to Martin Luther King. WTF.

He may have changed technology and society but why are we celebrating someone who also did some pretty dark things? Every bit of electronics we have are made with crystals from the congo and etc. etc. etc. If Jobs truly wanted to make the world a better place maybe he could have changed the way we MAKE technology.

There's no way making the world a better place was his motivation. I've been using macs all my life, since before they were the better computers and they were just cheaper but...at least Gates is doing humanitarian work.

Keri said...

A loophole I discovered with the ipod early on was the "battery replacement." Bring your old, broken ipod in and you get a refurbished version of the same generation for
$50. That's how I kept the same model of ipod for 5 years until I chose to upgrade. So, people who recycled your ipod, thanks! You saved me a lot of money by throwing away yours!

Jayzilla said...

i have an old technics turntable from 1985 .. its awesome, after 20+ years... i dont think itll stop being awesome anytime soon

Jeff Sorley said...

To paraphrase Paulk Newman as John Rooney in 'The Road to Perdition':

"This is the life we chose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will be using the same mobile device come next year."

Jeremy Hollinger: Consummate purfeshinal said...

So you basically paid full original price + $50 for the 'privilege' of having the same ipod for 5 yrs. I'd hardly call that getting over on anyone, Stacy

carmichael rogers said...

"I don’t want to sound like a grandpa or anything, but it used to be that if you paid hundreds of dollars for a device, that shit would last your lifetime. That was sort of WHY you paid that much for it."

Sorry trying to eliminate this concept from the American mythology...
The reason old things were built more sturdy was because the cheapest materials to build them were sturdy. The reason that things made of steel weren't made of plastic back in grandpappy's day was because there was an ass ton of steel around and it was cheaper than that newfangled Dow chemical.
Okay.

ffffffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuu rage face and whatever. K, that's out of my system.

Hank said...

Been using the same brick cell phone since 2006 (lacks camera, internet, etc., and still has the cingular logo). Three years ago, I dropped the ol' battle axe in a lake. like the Son of God, it came back to life two days later. Take that the Iphone.

Anne said...

Steve didn't turn people into zombies who are addicted to their phones. People make their own choices and those choices reflect the core values of an individual. And really, your dollar is more important than your vote. When you spend money on things that are designed to break, you're saying "I love shit that breaks" Throw out your phones and become human again. Simple.

Navi said...

He probably stole the 2-years-and-then-it-breaks philosophy from the auto industry.

MA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MA said...

I don't want to sound like a cunt, but I'm about to be shitty about a dead guy, so I will. I am still at a loss to what made Jobs remarkable in any way. His talents, as far as I can see the, are being superb at marketing, and deducing that shiny, pretty things are more desirable, than scary, dystopian-future things. All the while he's made technology less open and decreased compatibility across platforms. He didn't invent mp3 players, smartphones or tablet PCs. I don't really buy that the success of his company's versions of these things made us all use them more, I think he just saw the direction things were going and figured out how to sell things from it.

I could give him credit for Macs and such, but that feels like giving Gates credit for Windows: slimy and feculent.

James said...

I'd throw my phone at your head if I could, Anne.

Jeremy Hollinger: Consummate purfeshinal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

I understand your reaction to my comment James and other people may feel the same way and that's okay. But the power of the consumer is enormous. If everyone stopped shopping for one week, the government would be on its knees and have no choice but to care about the people they were elected to serve. Twould be nice to see inflation come down as well.

Anne said...

One of the many things I like about this blog is that it offers and open forum for the expression of diverse opinions. Thanks Brendan

It's A-Me, Martucci said...

I'd shove my flip phone up your rectum and vigorously thrust my ol timey 'analog' car key into your pee hole if I could James. Well I def could; constricting social conventions prevent me from doing so

Jacob William/MA are spot on

Orangey said...

Anne, if everyone stopped shopping for a week your neighbours would be in much more trouble than the government, us 1st worldies are addicted to debt, if everyone stopped shopping we'd stop getting paid, the banks would call in their loans and we'd all go bankrupt. Ok actually maybe that wouldn't be so bad.

Orangey said...

Steve Jobs had the focus and charisma to build beautiful horses while everyone else shat out ugly Camels. That means a whole lot to some people, i think it exposed how crap everyone else was and has meant I'm a happy camel user, they're pretty good these days. This analogy got thin quickly.

Anne said...

I've thought about that Orangey, there are too many people out of work as it is and more unemployment would be a disaster. Two days would be heard like a scream and might make a difference Despite growing unemployment inflation remains unchecked. This runs counter to the precepts inherent in a free market economy. In a consumer based economy, the consumer should have all the power.

Anne said...

Oh and thanks Its A-Me Martucci. Now I'm going to shut up because this blog belongs to this dude named Brendan and I don't want him to block my mouthy ass.

jbody said...

fecal matter on anderson coopers cell?um...yeah,how exactly couldn't that happen?

jbody said...

be like discovering mayonnaise residue on a shirt collar of rosie odonells.cuttin edge stuff folks.....anderson cooper doesnt dig puss and rosie odonell is overweight.eeehhhh.....