As everyone most likely knows by now, Steve Jobs (the co-founder and visionary behind Apple) has passed away after years of battling pancreatic cancer. Jobs’ impact in both technology and music (thanks to the iPod and iTunes) is unquestionable. While many in the metal community have responded via Twitter, and rather than writing our own tribute, we thought we’d share a piece from one particular member of the metal community.
Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick paid respect to the innovator in a posting on his website. Skolnick’s “goodbye letter” pretty much sums up all we could say about the important role that Jobs played in our culture. Here’s some of what he wrote in his posting:
“Like many, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on Apple products and admit occasionally grumbling about the prices, the upgrades and the compatibility of Apple products. But stop for one moment and consider the amount of human productivity, the advances in business, entertainment and communications, the enjoyment of these processes and the resulting higher quality of life (for both creator and consumer alike) that has been a direct result of Steve Jobs’ visions. When you put it in perspective, there is no comparison to the amount of personal dollars spent. So while there are going to be tributes from technological and cultural commentators far more qualified than myself, the least I can do is put in my proverbial two cents.
In my own case, this human productivity has included capturing music on digital software designed for the Macintosh computer. Often the songs of which were fleshed out on a MacBook pro laptop and in many cases the initial ideas were captured via the iPhone Voice Memo. Eventually these songs would be heard by many listeners via iTunes on computers, iPods and more recently something that I didn’t quite understand when it first came out: the iPad, as reflected in a blog post: ‘Confessions Of A Reluctant iPad Owner.’
There was one thing I hadn’t realized yet when I wrote that post: when you listen to music on the iPad — the cover art takes over the whole screen (unless you choose the option of opening up another iPad window while listening). Whether Jobs himself thought of this, or someone else at Apple (no doubt enabled and inspired by Jobs), it a recapturing something so precious: the appreciation of album cover art, a joy which got lost as the primary medium for music switched from vinyl records to CD’s and more recently, MP3s. Clearly Steve Jobs was a true fan and connoisseur of music and art as well as computer nerd.
To me, that little touch with the album cover art, a minor detail compared to the iPad’s other features, captures the essence of what made Steve Jobs so special. Part of his genius was his ability to take very complex technology and make it palatable, even enjoyable, to non-technically minded people. Another good reflection of this can be seen in the way he introduced the iPad Nano onstage in 2005: rather than describing the intricacies of microcircuits and MP3 technology, he simply had a video camera do a close up of the coin pocket on his blue jeans and, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, he introduced a tiny iPod, the likes of which had been previously unimaginable (as was the concept of the iPod itself about five years earlier). Although he had numerous unique qualities — leadership skills, a keen business sense and a vigilant work ethic not the least of them — it was Jobs’ sense of presentation, whether himself onstage delivering a keynote address, or in the sleek appearance of Apple’s products and retail stores, which set him apart from other technological innovators.”
You can read Skolnick’s posting in its entirety at his website. Our condolences go out to Jobs’ family and close friends.