Oct 15

Searching for the real Steve Jobs

ALERT! Steve Jobs is missing.

We can’t find him in the new Steve Jobs movie.

We didn’t find him in the Ashton Kutcher Jobs movie. Or Gibney’s Man In The Machine. Or Pirates of Silicon Valley.

We didn’t find him in the one-man stage show, The Agony And Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs. Fat chance that we’ll find him in the upcoming Steve Jobs opera.

Hell, he was MIA in the biography authorized by Steve himself.

So, where is that rascal hiding? Of all the countless articles, books and movies that aim to enlighten us about Steve, why isn’t there one that gets it right?

I hope you’re sitting down for this — the real Steve Jobs story will arrive on the 12th of Never.

That’s because everyone who tells the story has their own perspective. Most had no personal experience with Steve, and those that did each had their own unique experience.

It makes sense. If people set out to describe your life, your spouse’s story would be different from that told by your mechanic, your mother and your orthodontist.

The Sorkin/Boyle/Fassbender version now struggling in the theaters demonstrates this well.

Some who should know (like Woz and Hertzfeld) have said that while the movie is largely fiction, it captures the spirit of the man. Many others say “this isn’t the Steve I knew.”

So how can one ever hope to understand the real Steve?

Easy. We’re all members of the jury, and the evidence has been dumped upon us in a thousand different ways.

While you won’t get the definitive story from any one person, the truth is spread across myriad sources.

Just take it all in and use some common sense. Give more credibility to Steve’s colleagues, family and friends, and be wary of the extremes. Because, just as it was during Steve’s lifetime, there are those who wish to deify him and those who wish to tear him down.

Most important, remember that the least likely source of an accurate Steve depiction is a Hollywood movie. Movies are entertainment, not historical documents.

Some who really, really knew Steve — Tim Cook, Jony Ive and Lauren Powell Jobs in particular — are clearly frustrated by the way Steve has been portrayed.

I can’t blame them. They see things they believe to be wildly inaccurate, and that taint Steve’s legacy, and there’s not much they can do.

Or maybe there is.

Here’s a radical suggestion. Many speculate that Apple will get into content creation as Apple TV matures. So what the heck. With over $200 billion in cash reserves, why not invest a fraction-of-a-drop-in-a-bucket $50 million to commission the “real” Steve Jobs story?

There are plenty of fantastic directors and screenwriters who’d be happy to take on the job, and the result would be a movie Apple could enthusiastically embrace.

Not likely, of course. If, for no other reason, because we have officially reached Steve Jobs saturation level.

So, for anyone who wants to find the true, unfiltered Steve, there’s only one option—do your research. He’s out there, hiding in plain sight.



  • SSpindler

    Great food for thought. I’ve not read the biography or seen any of the movies. The closest I’ve come is reading Insanely Simple, which was obviously about more than just Steve. I think the book Becoming Steve Jobs may have received the closest thing to an endorsement you’ll get from Tim Cook and company. I haven’t picked that one up yet either, but I plan on adding it to my Xmas wish list.

  • WFA67

    There are so many ways to evaluate “a life.” Each of us will have his own biases, conscious or unconscious. But with respect to the experience of nearly all of us, Steve’s “life” will always be thought of, not as what kind of a person he may, or may not have been, but he’ll be remembered for what he left behind.

    Doesn’t one’s life really belong to history?

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