Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mild in our method

Vigorous let us be in attaining our ends, and mild in our method of attainment.
           -- Lord Newborough, Motto

Funny I should fall over this quote, just as I've been marvelling all morning, reading the Steve Jobs book, about how rude the man often was.

I have huge respect for his taste and ideals and accomplishments, but I find it hard to respect his personality. He would always view and treat people as either Gods or Shit, nothing in between, and even the "gods" would live in constant fear of his famous and frequent changes of mind. "This is shit" was a common comment when seeing something he didn't like or understand, regardless of how much or how little data he had about it yet.
When he had recruited the affable Andy Hertzfeld to the Macintosh team, Andy wanted a few days to round off his current Apple II work so he could hand it over smoothly. Jobs insisted that working on the Mac was infinitely more important, and he actually ripped out the power plug to Andy's computer in the middle of Andy's work, and virtually pulled him away. To me, such behavior is simply inexcusable, and would be even if it resulted in the best results. But I don't think it even does that, because you always have to work with people, and if you habitually offend people, it throws gravel in the gears of the machinery. 

A person should respect differing viewpoints, and a person should be able to control his feelings instead of letting them spill all over the landscape wherever he goes, to no aim. I think doing this is simply immature, no matter one's status. 
I also think that the binary, black-or-white matter of seeing everything is immature, though perhaps this is more on a spiritual development scale than a human scale, seeing as how many outstanding humans have such a mentality all their lives. 

While I'm insulting kings (in the name of learning) I think Jobs also wasted great amounts of time and energy on details which actually didn't matter.  He went "into the opposite ditch" to use a Danish expression. One ditch is releasing a product with obvious flaws, or making products without a feeling of aesthetics or pride or quality. And the opposite ditch is, like Jobs did in just one example, not being satisfied with any of the 2,000 shades of beige in the Pantone catalogue for the Apple II's case, and wanting to make a new one for it. That's just borderline insanity. One of the most important mental attributes a person can have is a good judgement of the importance of a datum or decision. 

1 comment:

Stephen A said...

My opinion on Jobs is on par with Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake from Dr. Strangelove on the Japanese:

"Uh, yes they did. I was tortured by the Japanese. Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story. ... Ah, oh, no... well, I don't think they wanted me to talk really. I don't think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras."