I used to have a printed copy of the famous “Think Different” ad framed on my wall. It hung right above my work desk in my room. It was actually written by a couple of writers from an ad agency, but the vision was all Steve’s.
I honestly have never been tempted by Apple’s sleekly designed products, which were born in Steve’s cranium, but I genuinely believed in the revolution that was underneath all that shiny skin. I wasn’t interested in the coolness factor of his products, but in the potential that they held.
Ideas are like pathogens—such as viruses and bacteria—because it can spread rapidly from one person to the next. Ideas are highly contagious. We have seen its worst example in Nazi Germany during WWII, and we have seen its best during the 2000s when Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Steve Chen and Mark Zuckerberg formed a (super-cool) geek coalition that marched triumphantly towards the future and heralded a new era and, in the process, transformed the way we worked, the way we were entertained, the way we lived, but most importantly the way we think. They made it cool to be smart again. My other favorite ad slogan is IBM’s “let’s build a smarter planet” mantra. But the difference between IBM’s rhetoric and Apple’s is that Apple put their philosophy into action with gusto.
Ideas such as democracy, liberty and human rights seem so simple to us who live in nations that aren’t ruled by a dictatorship. It feels so natural, so right, yet these are dangerous ideas in many parts of the world. In a globe that is bound together in an electrical grid, how fast can these ideas travel? As fast as a revolution at the click of a button—which is to say: instantly.
When Steve Jobs resurrected Macintosh from its ashes with a new face and attitude, he knew what kind of world he wanted to live in, and he wanted to share that piece of neo terra with the rest of us. He understood connectivity and he understood that the Internet is the new Silk Road. But what will lubricate the flow of information and ideas? I’m sure he spent many nights pondering that question. After months of think tanking, he came out with the iMac G3. After that, he became bolder and—well, you know the rest of the story.
Whether you’re a fan of the products he designed or not, you have to give the icon his credit as one of the most brilliant visionaries of our time. So what exactly is his legacy? Revolutions in the Middle East and the now-nationwide Wall Street protests mobilized by iPhones, iPads and Mac Books; affordable tablets, which Apple had perfected, are now about to be available for poor students in India; and millions of filmmakers and multimedia journalists who thank Mr. Jobs for giving them the software to turn their vision into reality.
Steve Jobs’s legacy is not a black turtleneck, a partially-bitten apple, nor the hip and sexy aesthetics of his products; His contribution to the world is that he pushed the first domino that went on to topple more dominoes until it revealed the big picture that illuminated our post-9/11 world and inspired people—-rich, poor, Harvard-educated, or high school dropouts—to not only think beyond the walls of social and personal constraints, but to create what we envision, because it was possible if we had the right tools.
Steve Jobs gave you the spark and he gave you the tools. Now, go out there and use them for good.