Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs, American business hero with hippie credentials

Every one will have his or her own Steve Jobs perspective. And all of them could be true. But there are some details which cannot be used to add up and make sense of the man. But the details are fascinating. He has a Syrian Muslim biological father, whom he never acknowledges or meets. He remains rooted to his adopted parents. But the Syrian Muslim angle will remain the mystery aspect of the person, who did not count much on genetical inheritance. He was a techie-kind with a certain longing for an education in humanities, an American trait. So instead of going for an electronics course or even a management course, he goes to a liberals arts college (Reed), but drops because his parents could not afford it. He walks seven kilometres to get a free vegetarian meal at Hare Krishna centre. Takes LSD and travels to India. He is forever excited by the technology aspects. The visit to Xerox fires him. Later he works with Pixar, the computer animation film-maker unit set up by that other maverick, George Lucas. Jobs's Pixar makes "Toy Story"which vaults him into the billionaire club.
So, Jobs does not fit the regular slot of tech-maniac or a ruthless manager though he was both. He played these roles in his own hippyish, anarchic style.
Jobs is a difficult role model for any one to imitate because he is not the wimpish luddite or mawkish liberal. Neither is he the Henry Ford-type business monster. Here is a classic Woodstock entrepreneur, who uses imagination for technological and business purposes. He redefines counter-culture and hippysim. There is much in his life for culture historians to think over. Steve Jobs can only happen in a disorderly social milieu like that of second half of the 20th century America.

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