Friday, 3 June 2016

Was Steve Jobs right when he said that Bill Gates would be a "broader" guy if he dropped acid?

Warning: This post is a bit critical of Steve Jobs and is respectful of Bill Gates.  I already know the Appleholics view that Gates is all evil and Jobs is all good so if you feel the need to comment as such, you are kind of wasting both of our time.

Bill and his wife spend their lives working to promote human development.

I saw Bill Gates recently at LSE.  Bill Gates talked about how he was working with local teams to wipe out malaria in India.  A nation of over 1 billion people and this one man was working with the local community to exterminate a killer disease that has plagued it for all of human history there.

He was a humble small man, a man of mild humor and modest ambition.  A man of massive humanity who empowered the entire audience, charging everyone with the idea that life can be made better.

Gates spoke of other topics like global warming and his concerns about the future of humanity.

Jobs last public appearance, facing death his mind was on a new office space for Apple.  He has left us the legacy of really cool gadgets, but how much he gave back to the world despite years of meditation and drugs is openly questioned. 

Gates blew our minds: he was the Guru Saint of the 21st Century.

I have never seen Jobs speak live, but I have seen plenty of videos of him.  Yes Apple is really cool, yes Apple makes great toys for richer people to go on line and check in to Foursquare or tweet flames at people while sitting around waiting for a seminar to start or a train to arrive.  

Jobs is thus kind of like a technology Vidal Sassoon, your iPad makes you look good and therefore Vidal looked good.  Excellent business marketing, but deep?  

Jobs was a typical product of the American West Coast counterculture of the 1970s: he imagined by consuming drugs and attending yoga classes he was deep. He certainly went on to be a giant of American industry, but so did Ford and Carnegie.  Was Ford deep when he ranted on about Jews?  Are the Koch brothers deep as they fund the Tea Party?

Gates may not have gone in for the Indian Mystical experience on drugs in the 1970s but in the last 10 years he has spent a lot of time in India, helping with medicine, education, and opportunity.  Certainly Gates did not bother to wear cool clothing, and he is likely not even high on pot in this picture or seeking enlightenment, but I imagine to the people attending it meant a great deal more than a drugged out Steve Jobs and his backpack in the 1970s.

Gates may or may not have done acid, but the man I saw speak on issues like malaria, clean drinking water and global warming was as deep as any person I have had the honor to hear speak.  Jobs last words to the world were essentially 'Hey, don't you love how the iPad looks.'

I sure like my Apple laptop, iPhone, iPad, desktop and iPod devices.  Hey, they are great.  Yeah, Apple as a public traded company that makes profit and cool stuff!  I also like my Nesspreso machine.  But Gates made me see how we might be able to make this a better world.  He steps away from all the money to try and make the lives of the most modest people in Africa and India better.

Steve Jobs spent much of his youth seeking enlightenment, doing drugs and traveling in India, but as he faced death he seemed to think a new phone would 'take care of everyone.'  The contrast between the great hippie who was only interested in money, and the straight and narrow business man who actually cares deeply about the world could not be greater. 

That is deep, man!

For my 45 birthday my wife got me a Nespresso machine and an iMac.  They are both guilty pleasures of consumption.  I like them both very much, but are they deep?

Note: I understand I used the term deep when the question asked broad.  But I think as far as broad goes not many people can say 'I founded the largest computer company in history, created the OS used by most PCs and the Office productivity set used by most employees, promoted effective prevention methods for sex workers in Asia and Africa and worked to wipe out malaria in India.  What ever you think of the guy that is a pretty broad set of accomplishments.

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