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Friday, December 30, 2011

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I know I'm a little late on the bandwagon, but over my winter break I decided to pick up Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Many of you may have read it, but I'd like to offer a little different viewpoint on the novel than the typical technology lens. To begin with, I highly recommend reading this book. It offers a very enlightening view into our generation's great innovator's life and work. Walter Isaacson is a fantastic writer, and he definitely brings Jobs' story to life. And as a proud Apple addict, reading about all of the work Jobs and the rest of his team put into the products that rule my life only makes me appreciate them more.

But the thing that I most took away from this was how much work and thought was placed into the design and aesthetics of each and every Apple product. Steve Jobs was a maniac when it came to even the smallest part of a product's design. When the first Macintosh came out, he agonized over the little details of the title bars and fonts, and when another engineer called him out on how nitpicky he was being, he replied, "Can you imagine looking at that every day? It's not just a little thing, it's something we have to do right." It's not something you probably think often about, but looking at an ugly screen for an entire day would not be particularly pleasant.

I've always romanticized Apple products, and this just gave justification to that. From the moment that you open the box of a new iProduct, the aesthetic experience is engineered to be as good as it can be. And even the parts that you can't see are made to be beautiful. Steve Jobs learned from his carpenter father that, "When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality,has to be carried all the way through," and this mantra informed his entire design philosophy.

Even in his most frail days before receiving a liver transplant, Jobs was fixated with products looking good. While under heavy anesthesia, he refused to wear a mask because it was ugly and made the doctors bring him different choices. This is extreme, but it is what we have to thank for the beauty that is the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers.

Whether you're interested in technology, aesthetics, or just are fascinated or intrigued by the genius that is Steve Jobs, I would highly recommend picking this book up. Jobs had such an impact on our society, and I believe that this biography was a great representation of the man that founded one of the most influential technology companies in the world.

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