Friday, 1 June 2012

A Belated Eulogy


Steve Jobs, pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.
                                  -  Richard Stallman

On October 5, 2011 it seemed the world at large was in grief over the untimely death of a great entrepreneur. Hashtags abounded (#iSad?), cut-copy-paste was channelled effectively in sharing eulogies and there was turmoil of despair in the minds of millions of wannabes.

The dust has largely settled. It’s much safer to wade against that time’s tide and it gives me a chance to say a few things that have been brewing in my mind ever since the departure of a great visionary. I thought of many ways to begin a measured tirade but I have a somewhat easier approach to bring home my case with an appropriate analogy. The Oatmeal, an instrument of satire and slapstick had recently called Thomas Alva Edison as the biggest douchebag in the history of geekdom. The accusations levelled against Edison can be briefly listed as follows:
  1. That he did not invent the light bulb himself but only improved it in a way that made it accessible to everyone. “Edison simply figured out how to sell the light bulb.”
  2. “Edison was not a geek; he was a CEO.”
  3. “Edison was known for rushing to the patent office as soon as one of his employees had something.”
  4. He was utterly ruthless with his employees (even with Tesla when he worked under Edison) and would get down to ridiculous levels of savagery to disparage his rivals' works.
The Oatmeal guy then concludes his robust and highly impartial analysis of the achievements of Edison with the following apt conclusion:

In short, the only thing Edison truly pioneered was douchebaggery.

See anything familiar?

Exactly.