so there I was, yesterday morning, grieving about about a russian poet who died at 56,* and moving on from his fine book about venice to another book about venice** opening with the notion that «having a dream» can sometimes be a bad thing (if you try to force your dreams on reality with violence), when the news reached me about the death of steve jobs. at 56. a man who daydreamed in a good way: he dreamed a way of living with technology that I was happy to embrace.
I really had no idea who steve jobs was, when I first used one of the computers he had contributed to create and sell – he probably wasn't even in the company at the time, as I might venture to place my first sight of a small and friendly macintosh in 1987-88.
which model was that? I don't know – maybe a macintosh plus, if it had aldus pagemaker on it, as I seem to remember. the mac was in a room at my university's journalism department. we had been making a photocopied fanzine-style magazine, my friends and I, and a word processor was very welcome, and a pagination software even better. our self-proclaimed editor soon bought a macintosh of his own: end of the collage and bricolage (but the magazine was shortlived too, I'm afraid – a first lesson of ideas being more important than the means you have to express them, though means may be crucial in bringing them out).
cut to my first job in publishing (1992 – meanwhile my dad had bought a sad ibm dos-only machine, much to my dismay, and I had wrote my thesis on it, using framemaker).
the owner of the editing studio was a huge macintosh fan, and he went on to write a manual on computer use in editorial departments. by then desktop publishing was all the rage, and in the next 5 years I saw every mac model parading on those desks, while our art director put away cutter and wax in favour of digital pagination on colour monitors. mind you, we still just had a few machines for public use at work (not personal, one-to-one computers) when I left in 1998. so yes, «macintosh» was indeed synonymous with «jobs» for me, but purely for working reasons…
meanwhile I had bought my first mac in 1995: it was needed for freelance editing (and, by then, I wasn't prepared to go back to ibm anyway). I can't say I've ever been really fond of my performa 5200, but it was sold in bundle with a 28,8k modem (I think), and, wow, I discovered the internet!
I then found a steady job where a power macintosh with a huge monitor (can't remember which model), mine to use all day long for editing, pagination, email and ramblings on the house bulletin board (running on lotus notes I'm afraid), started the kind of symbiotic relationship between me and the apple I still enjoy – nothing to do really with a supposed cool factor, only with an ease of use you can happily take for granted. using windows for the first time at my 2003-2007 workplace made me really unhappy and frustrated, that's all I can say (though, admittedly, they were old and slow machines, because «you only work on text»). despite the high prices of apple products, I never looked back: I kept wondering if I should look elsewere, but I simply could not find a good reason.
back to my jolly but cumbersome performa: it had moved houses with me, and contributed to some neat film catalogue designing along the way, but it was at last ready for retirement, in favour of the black 1999 powerbook. this was much loved, it made friends with a small nikon camera and my first ipod (2004 for both, I believe), and then I started blogging.
this was a real millennium turn in our western everyday life, this digital integration (computers+media+the internet), and for me it was largely based on apple products. technology you can use and trust, technology even luddist p., my husband, uses and trusts. we upgraded to a white intel imac in 2007 (the same model I then found on my desk at my present job), and that's his computer now, good for video tranfer/editing as it was for publishing.
because we discovered we needed 2 computers in the house, I got a laptpop again two years ago, my current macbook pro. everything happened in a seamless, easy, agreeable process made possible by apple's operative system (I mean, every piece of technology has its hiccups, but we've had only 2 major computer failures in 16 years – one due to power outage – and we solved them on our own. no repair expenses whatsoever).
looking back, I probably didn't learn who steve jobs was until apple branched outside the computer field. the first colourful imacs started the apple-for-the masses trend (people who dismiss this saying that focussing on design in electronics is futile are in a bad brain-senses relationship), but then the ipod came, and the rest is widely known (and too hyped, and often too wildly discussed).
venturing in portable technology often seems a bit tricky for me: my first discman got somehow power-burned (and I got another one as soon as possible), my first ipod suffered death by water (and I got another one as soon as possible), my first iphone was stolen, and I mean to get another one as soon as possible. I've had cell phones but never really put them to good use – it seems I seldom need them (and I've never liked telephone in the first place): instead I need an easy, non alienating way to have access to information – always – and to communicate the way I want to, easily linking to what already happens on my computer(s).
steve jobs – if it is possible or right to reduce to one person's work the products of whole industrial teams and strategies – gave this to me, and to millions of people trying to cope with this mad world we created, and maybe understand it a bit and finding our way in it without getting mad ourselves (with or without a cute black briquette armed with gps).
* iosif brodskij, 1949-1996
** simone weil, venise sauvée