Hatchet Jobs

The Man in the Machine Argues That Being an Asshole Was the Least of Steve Jobs's Flaws


"The smart phone is amazing"

I put reverence of the smart phone right up there with reverence of Steve Jobs as evidence of the decline of the human species. Not coincidence that the downfall and denigration of reason and science coincide with the rise of electronic devices that make us less resourceful, more disconnected from reality and dependent upon them.
gonzo is too smart for a smart phone and I second that.

That device, despite all its sophistication, is THE bauble of ultimate distraction. It's as useful and degenerate as a hammer.
And people accuse ME of being a curmudgeon. I'm astonished to find such a pair of Luddites using the online version of this paper. I don't suppose either of you entered your opinions via smartphone, eh? No, I have to agree with the author, the smartphone is the current pinnacle of consumer technologies. Name one higher, more capable, or more connected. Gonzo and snoopy, your bitchy little screeds smack of sour grapes. And, yes, I'm commenting via my iPhone, commo no?
I'm kinda glad cancer got him.
Anybody who thinks that we wouldn't have smart phones had Steve Jobs not lived doesn't know very much about technology. Go read some Ray Kurzweil -- you don't have to believe all the stuff he believes, but he explains the exponential advance of technology very well. Short version: it was all but guaranteed that computers would be super powerful and pocket sized. The idea to connect them together via the internet was not too hard to think up. Jobs was very skilled at turning that commodity into a high end consumer product. But again, the idea that we'd all still be using walkmans and landlines in 2015 if it weren't for Steve is crazy.
If Jobs had been a nice guy, the most important consumer technology of our times, the smartphone, might not have come into existence.

If this is true, it's just another reason to hate that psychopath. This technology is glorified crack.
"There once lived one of those really obstinate assholes who will constantly tell you he couldn’t change his assholic ways if it killed him. It killed him."
--Maureen Tkacik, http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/20…
I cannot think of a single way in which Steve Jobs made the world a better place.

The smartphone is a goddamn narcissism machine that creates sidewalks teeming with smiling idiots who don't what where they're going.
@ 1, 2, 7, you're forgetting about how a smart phone camera is the only reason that Charleston cop is being charged with murder. I'm too tired to come up with other examples, but it's an empowering tool - if used as such.
Oh, and let's direct that @ 9 as well. That comment wasn't here when I loaded the page the first time.

Also, let's just note the irony of accusing other people of narcissism from the comments section.
Anybody who thinks that we wouldn't have smart phones had Steve Jobs not lived doesn't know very much about technology. Go read some Ray Kurzweil -- you don't have to believe all the stuff he believes, but he explains the exponential advance of technology very well. Short version: it was all but guaranteed that computers would be super powerful and pocket sized."

Tell me, ScruffyBallardMan--can you tell the difference between an iPhone and an Amazon phone? How about between a Mac and a Dell?

I hate Steve Jobs, but THAT is the point that you're choosing to ignore.
“where Italy is today (broke and caught in the same debt whirlpool that has sucked in Greece)”

Italy is not Greece. Sure, Italy has some scary debt numbers, its tax system is screwed up, and they have double digit unemployment.


Italy is a G-8 nation. Only one country in Europe out produces Italy in manufacturing.. Germany. It top of line brands that are known the world over, from Fendi to Ferrari. They pay their debts, and they have the third largest gold reserves in the world, (thanks to their super export economy) They also have something that they outdo that only Greece has their main part of their economy: tourism.. Italy’s economy is very diversified, with agricultural products, (the makers of nutella are billionaires) fashion, manufacturing, even major energy companies. Italy is not to be trifle with economically..

Italy has debt that is around 132% of their GDP, but they aren’t broke, far from it.. Their economy has some serious problems, Rome is broke. However Italy has a strong banking system, a stable real estate market, and an diversified export economy most nations would dream of.. Italy stumbles along with little gas in the tank, but they are driving Zondas.
Pardon me: who don't WATCH where they're going.
...indeed, [the iPhone] might even be capitalism's last great commodity (what could surpass the usefulness of a smartphone?)

If you seriously can't think up any other useful innovations (however implausible they might sound today) whose invention would benefit the world, you have a woefully stunted imagination.
@1 and @2 are spot-on.

We're all still working 40+ hour weeks, with no guaranteed vacation or sick time, despite all the "technological advances" of the past half-century. Anyone who thinks that smartphones represent "progress" should re-read Charles Mudede's essay.
@17 Let us bow our heads and pray to the holy office supplies...
Jobs was a good form meets function and fashion designer. Apple is on par with the Izod shirt or the Honda Accord. We'd still have preppy shirts and cars.
I had a smart phone before iPhones were released. Sure it was a behemoth that ran Windows Mobile 5.0 but it predates the iPhone by a year.
Yeah The Third Man is a great movie but when I heard that line I always thought ummm Swiss watch, Swiss army knife? Products associated with Switzerland are basically synonymous with well-made and useful.
If Steve Jobs had directed the production of the Macintosh® and iPhone® computers but died poor, he would not be so frequently worshipped as he is. Those at the top of hominid bands get improved food and mating opportunities, and above all the privilege of inflicting pain on those below them without the expectation of reciprocal violence...so demonstrations of that last privilege are especially useful for bolstering their positions. (It's why on the school-yard, the ghetto corner, the prison-yard, and the board-room the immediate reaction to being attacked is to attack...anyone---the 2003 Iraq invasion made perfect hominid sense.)

Transgressing laws without being punished is a symbolic version of that.
Steve Jobs didn't invent the smartphone but if you think that smartphones are useless gadgets (but apparently computers are not), ignoring the lives they have saved and the way they have made it really hard to get away with certain forms of abuse, was your life just right back in, say, 1995? 2000? Because surely if these new gizmos and gadgets are such a hinderance to you, if this is truly such a crucial issue, at some point in your life there was a time where you thought to yourself "Gee, technology is just right! Now we can stop innovating, I guess we don't need anything else. Hey, maybe Ted Kaczynski was right to maim and kill those people because technology's just for spoiled brats, it's not like it does anything!"

Is it because you guys get really poor reception when you try to simultaneously use your phone and also push yourselves deeper up your own assholes? Alright, here's a thought experiment, let's say that you want the usefulness of a smartphone, but someone teleported you back in time 15 years. It's now 2000. People still know who The Backstreet Boys are, Adam Sandler is funny again, and people are just getting excited about this new show called Friends. Now let's say you want to beat the efficiency rush. I'll use my own phone, two weeks old (my first smartphone that isn't a Windows Phone aka the useless stepchild of smartphones), as an example. To replicate its rather bare-bones (by phone standards) products, you would have to carry around with you a:
- Comprehensive map of the entire united states.
- Flashlight with batteries
- Compass
- Ruler and level
- Listing of bus schedules
- Decibel meter
- Cell phone (duh) and wallet
- Walkman plus every CD you could possibly lug around with you. Every last one of them.
- Multiple textbooks. In fact, let's go ahead and assume that you'd just have to camp out at the library.
- A huge collection of high-quality VHS tapes. Maybe you hang out in a very weird, cool library.
- Newspapers. All of them.
For most people, that list would be considerably longer.

Are we happier? No, of course not. It's not about being deep-down happier, it's about efficiency and doing the things we want to do; therefore, we are not necessarily happier but we are certainly more entertained and in our own way, capable and engaged. There's a psychological phenomenon called the happiness treadmill. You could win the lottery or be in a car accident tomorrow and in a year's time you'd be about as happy. Very few things on average tend to make people well and truly feel more fulfilled with their lives, that's why we keep doing those few things (eat, sleep, fuck, drop acid, perform meaningful work, accrue resources to a point) over and over again. If you were honestly let down that technology hasn't magically made everyone just the most chipper little unflappable fucker on the block, if you're surprised that people honestly care to spend time engaging with things which are by their very nature engaging and entertaining, banal as you may find them, then the issue isn't with smartphones, it's with your totally unrealistic idea of where happiness comes from. It's like somehow you honestly believed the commercials about these things, that they would make everyone happy forever, and when that didn't happen, you suddenly became salty about the whole thing and just hand-wave away all the things that we are now able to do with a thoughtless "Bah, kids and their smartphones!" one-liner. Talk about a meaningless brain fart of a sentiment.

The next time you shoot dirty looks at some teenager who can't stop posting meaningless, content-free updates to Twitter, maybe remember that if you were posting on Twitter, it would be about as meaningless, content-free, and ultimately banal. For all the talk about "shutting off the computer and getting outside" or "experiencing life right in front of you," unless you're willing to actually go back to neolithic levels of technology and social organization (some of the happiest people on the planet live in relatively undisturbed tribes), chances are that you were relatively not happier before the advent of smartphones, nor will more powerful but teleologically trivial technologies make you truly sadder, although it might make you more of a curmudgeon with a bad case of rosy retrospection.