Steve Jobs and Machine Beauty

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David Byron

David Byron is a software developer working for the military-industrial complex. At Popehat, he writes about art, language, theater (mostly magic), technology, lyrics, and aleatory ephemera. Serious or satirical poetry spontaneously overflows from him while he's recollecting in tranquility. @dcbyron

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6 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    I think the "spares us from having to think too much of the device itself" insight is key. Though I am not a Mac computer user, that's one of the things I enjoy about the iPhone and iPad — that they are quite good at being the transparent gateway to the thing I am enjoying rather than the thing itself. The term "immersive" comes to mind.

  2. Martin says:


    I am so stealing that.

  3. Scott Jacobs says:

    Steve Jobs' greatest trick was not only getting people to need a device we survived just fine without, but also getting people to pay $150 more for the hardware and to be happy when doing so.

  4. Mike says:

    Great post.

    When I was a PC user (going back to the 80s) I knew everything about interrupts and handshakes and parity, serial and parallel, autoexec.bat and config.sys, drivers and BSOD.

    Now I have a computer that talks wirelessly to my phone, tablet and TV, none of those things came with manuals and I don't have any idea how any of it works.

    I'll pay just about any premium for that. RIP Steve.

  5. David says:

    Mine does that too, and it says Microsoft at the boot screen.

    Well, it talks to my TV. My phone has a cord going into the wall.

  6. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society says:

    >>> and the simplicity of the device spares us from having to think too much about the device itself.

    That is one of THE key thoughts there. I bumped into this elegant description about 25-30 years ago:

    Civilization advances by increasing the number of important things we can do without thinking about them.

    Really. It's pretty much that simple. Indoor plumbing is an advance — we don't have to think about going outside in the cold or heat, don't have to worry about smell or disease, don't have to worry (usually) about "turning it over", don't have to worry about spiders.

    Sliced bread is an advance. We just reach into the bin, grab a couple slices, and boom, we've got a sandwich or toast.

    Mass Transit, however, is NOT and advance (it may be necessary — but it's not an advance). You have to worry about whether a bus goes where you need to go, you have to worry about when it arrives at the nearest stop, where that stop is, what the nearest stop is to your destination, how much crap you'll have to carry to the stop or away from the stop, do you need a transfer?, will the buses STILL be running when you want to come back, and so forth and so on, ad infinitem. (My own personal experience is that, where I live, a 40 minute round trip in a car is at least 90 minutes minimum).

    And THIS is why people reject Mass Transit where given both the choice and a rational situation for using an auto, and will ALWAYS do so if the Nanny State doesn't ram it down our throats.