Real Men in the Digital Age
A while ago I went wandering into the local Microcenter. Microcenter sells lots of stuff – computers, cameras, printers, books, calculators, and all the rest. Basically, they sell computer stuff. They also sell T-shirts. What sort of T-shirt would I find at Microcenter?
There was a display for “Geekware” in the corner. What sorts of T-shirts would be in the bin? I took a look. One of the T-shirts had this in white letters on a black shirt.
“Real men don’t use computers, they BUILD them.”
Curious. I searched on-line to find a picture of this T-shirt for this posting. Couldn’t find one. But, I did come up with this which is a similar sentiment.
So, lets stick with “Real men don’t use computers, they BUILD them.” with all deference to those who build elevators. Obviously, the intent of this saying presupposes someone would buy this T-shirt as a status symbol. If this saying is a status symbol to a certain demographic of buyer then what are these people thinking?
I remember hearing this sort of thing from IT (Information Technology) System Admins: “These machines would run better if there were no users logged in.” There was a recent episode of the The Big Bang Theory where one of the guys was going to spend an enjoyable evening installing a dozen operating systems on this machines while his roomate was planning to go on a date.
Bottom line, seems that some folks think of technology as an end in itself.
I picked up the new book on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and am working through it. What strikes me about Steve’s conception of the Macintosh computer was that it would “change the world”. The computer was to be an enabler for people to do wonderful things. And so it has – Desktop publishing, digital darkroom, music, movies, and all that the computer has enabled us to do on the Internet.
Real men don’t use computers? Really?
Building computers today is assembling pre-manufactured functional parts (case, disk drive, motherboard, CPU, memory chips, etc.) using little more than a screwdriver. Today “they build them” is not what The Woz did when he designed, built, and wrote the software for the first generation of Apple I computers.
I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.
Some look at an airplane and see a half-million parts flying in formation. Other’s see it as transportation to see the world. Some see computers as an assembly of components with the goal of little more than to run an operating system. Others see computers as a tool that enables and extends human creativity and imagination.
In the book on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson there is a picture of Steve in his home in Palo Alto. The picture was taken in 2004. The caption has this quote.
I like living at the intersection of the humanities and technology. — Steve Jobs
What is the value of technolgy without people and society and art and design?
In Apple products, the technology exists only for and because of the user.
Apple products are the convergence of technology, art, and design. People love holding, looking at, and using the iPad, iPhone, Macbook Air, and the rest of the product line. These products are not stamped out pieces of sheet metal that characterize so many consumer products.
Steve Jobs had the kind of thinking that enabled Apple to become the second largest U.S. company by market capitalization behind Exxon Mobil. Apple surpassed $300 billion dollars in valuation in 2011.