You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards

Steve Jobs:

He believed that the dots will connect down the road and I suppose that they did, though the road carries on and the dots never stop. I love his closing quote in this video from the very last page of the very last issue of Stuart Brand’s great comic, the Whole Earth Catalogue:”Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Kind of the John Lennon of geeks, I think, and Lennon might have said something simllar to his odd but haunting phrase uttered to these new graduates: “You are already naked – there is no reason not to follow your heart.”

For practical reasons (they work a bit better than others) I’ve had a fair number of Apple machines and, for some time, I’ve called them all Steve, liking to imagine him scuttling around finding and organising things for me inside the device and its network. Now just a ghost in the machine. It is impossible not to be moved by the death of the most obvious and most driven genius behind most of those devices. Steve Jobs was maybe not a good man in every way (that would be a bit much to ask), but he was certainly a great man.

I’d like to remember him by believing that his last gift (not sure to whom it was addressed, probably to himself) was a very small twinkle of characteristic brilliance: the release yesterday of the iPhone 4S. Imagine for a moment, a man who knows death is imminent, who knows what his death will mean, who knows an important new product is looming, so dedicated and focused that he realised his death would wreck its early sales figures and might even initiate a long term decline. If makes perfect sense. I suspect the iPhone 5 will arrive in weeks rather than months, it will be a huge success, and it will be (sadly nearing the last) part of his magnificent if ethically ambiguous legacy. I wonder if the Apple logo will be black? Either way, a good way to leave us, not with a bang but with a slightly irritating ring tone. 

One final aside that has little to do with Steve Jobs: the video I point to at the start of this post is copyrighted by Stanford University. Let me run that past you again. Steve Jobs read a speech (I’d love to think he wrote it but I’m sure he at least paid for it) yet the employers of the goon behind the camera (not the goon him or herself, who was not a creative genius anyway) own the copyright. I actually suspect Steve Jobs would have been among those who approved, but I am not one of them.

I am a professional learner, employed as a Full Professor and Associate Dean, Learning & Assessment, at Athabasca University, where I research lots of things broadly in the area of learning and technology, and I teach mainly in the School of Computing & Information Systems. I am a proud Canadian, though I was born in the UK. I am married, with two grown-up children, and three growing-up grandchildren. We all live in beautiful Vancouver.

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