This is not an eulogy. This is not so much about Apple or the man – Steve Jobs – either. This is about the paradigm shift he introduced which people don’t seem to get. And this is about our future.
But: I cannot write this without paying homage to somebody I have always respected immensely. I choose to say it with the words of another man I respect very much – Seth Godin. It was actually from his blog I got the news when I opened my iPad in the morning – a post very appropriately titled “A eulogy of action“.
“I can’t compose a proper eulogy for Steve Jobs. There’s too much to say, too many capable of saying it better than I ever could.
It’s one thing to miss someone, to feel a void when they’re gone. It’s another to do something with their legacy, to honor them through your actions.
Steve devoted his professional life to giving us (you, me and a billion other people) the most powerful device ever available to an ordinary person. Everything in our world is different because of the device you’re reading this on.
What are we going to do with it?”
– Set Godin –
I decided to write this when I was following the news after Steve Job’s passing away and one comment which I heard several times – including our MTV3 evening news – was that “he gave us gadgets we did not even know we needed” – said with a bit sarcastic undertone. And I thought: now, wait a minute…
The Gadgets we did not Know we Needed
To keep it simple, let’s forget everything else, but focus on one “gadget we did not know we needed” and that is the iPad.
A gadget, a technical innovation which became (or is becoming) part of our everyday language and experience. As did telephone, car, television, airplanes… or going a bit further down the history: ships, trains, printing press…
All of those – sure, we could live without all of them – but all of them have had immense impact on our lives. For good or for worse – yes, we could argue about that forever, but I don’t think anybody would have the balls to say those are “gadgets” – a word which somehow carries a bit of derogatory meaning along with it.
IPad (a term which I use to refer to “touch computer” in general) is not a “gadget” in this sense either. Yes, it’s small and electronic – I give you that. But much as I hate the word “Game Changer” – it is just that as well. It is a Paradigm Shift with capital letters. It is going to make a huge, huge change in our daily lives. You gotta be blind not to see it.
The two worlds I spend my professional life presently – the media on one side and education on the other – will be in total revolution because of this “gadget”. Let me make one prophecy: my daughter just started school. Before she enters the second grade, she will be doing most of her learning from the iPad.
But I save the education-theme for another day. Let’s talk about media.
Media and iPad
Oh yes, media…my favorite subject lately. Have you looked at the news lately? The Reijo-campaigning here in the North Pole and the Occupy Movement on Wall Street across the Atlantic – and how the media is (and especially was) handling that – or wasn’t handling. Wouldn’t you at least agree that there is something going on? That the media is in total turmoil? Why: because this is a postmodern paradigm shift (and if you get caught in the word postmodern, let me recommend this excellent article by Terry Heaton couple of weeks back)
I had a talk earlier today with somebody working for Google – somebody pretty high up in their organization, to say the least. He casually dropped some interesting statistics: presently c. 15% of the media is in the net – and thus, naturally 85% is somewhere else (print, tv, radio, etc.). Their very educated guess – which they take as a fact – is that within five years the numbers will be 80% in IP-media and 20% elsewhere (and note: the 20% includes tv, radio and the print…).
Would you not call this a paradigm shift?
Why do I Feel the Feed to Write this Now?
You might know that I teach linear multimedia in the University of Tampere, done it now for four years. I am also presently constructing a course for Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu (a.k.a Aalto University School of Art and Design), which I will be presenting next spring – teaching video and multimedia. I’m given basically free hands to do as I please – naturally remaining within certain boundaries and given limits as well as taking into account the technical background of these students.
So you understand, I ask myself on a daily basis: what do these kids need to learn? When they really start working within say four, five years – what are the skills essential mastering their medium of presentation? How can I best prepare them for that; what can I teach to make their work worth while? What constitutes the core of our media then?
Thinking about this I realize: these kids will be much more in debt to Steve Jobs than Johannes Gutenberg. They will need to learn Dreamweaver and Final Cut first and only then InDesign – not vice versa.
Among everything else of course.
And as I got into using software as a metaphor: the sad status quo of our media is that the guys in their gray suits running presently these publishing houses have barely mastered Word (with two fingers) as they have been busy typing out Excel and PowerPoint presentations defending their fading business…
The Future to Be…
Next Tuesday I have been asked to publicly comment on a research project done in The Tampere University on the subject of iPad publications – the present state and the future of them in Finland. An honor… but I am terrified as what to say. Thank God I was not asked to “rank the top five iPad versions of our daily print” – because I probably would have died laughing…
Yet… that is our future. If you disagree, I would really like to know on what data do you base that argument. And I give you a tip: “I just like the smell of paper” and “I cannot drink my coffee without my newspaper” – these are not valid arguments.
I started with Seth’s beautiful eulogy to Steve Jobs, entitled so appropriately Eulogy of Action. He’s last words were “what are we going to do with it?”
“To honor them thru your actions…” – I liked that one. As you see.