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Steve Jobs’ death was tragic, no doubt about that. He was an innovator whose impact on technology and culture, and on blurring the line between them, will probably only be fully understood by some future historians looking back on us. We can’t understand it now because we’re still living it, still following paths that Jobs had only begun to map out for us.

When we lose an icon of Jobs’ stature, there is always a tendency to embellish their influence a little. I heard some techie writer in NPR say, for example, that without Jobs there would be no personal computer. It sounded like nonsense to me at the time and it still does, although after discussing it with a friend who’s much more tech-savvy than I am, I can easily understand that a personal computer developed without his input might very well be much different than the one we enjoy today. They might be far more geeky and less-user friendly then what we enjoy today

A less user-friendly PC might mean no Photoshop, or at least no Photoshop as we know it. Photoshop and its competitors have made digital photography accessible to just about anyone with a computer, or even with a cell phone. In a parallel universe without Steve Jobs, this may not be the case . People may even still be using film because digital imaging might still be too complicated for them and, without an enthusiastic market, camera technology might be far behind what we expect in the universe we know and enjoy.

Throwback that I am, I sometimes think I might be happier in that parallel universe. I enjoy film and I miss it a lot. But honesty forces me to admit that I would not have developed the skills I enjoy now, or have been as prolific as I’ve been, had I been compelled to use film all these years.

I’ve criticized digital photography before because a lot of it just plain sucks and I attribute that, in part,  to the astonishingly low cost of entry. Truth be told, that isn’t really a criticism of the technology as it is a criticism of the photographers using it. Good photography, digital or film, still requires some talent that no amount of technology can  or ever will replace.

Steve Jobs, by making the personal computer a part of our everyday lives,  has made me a better photographer by allowing me to experiment more and survive my mistakes a little better. Photographers owe him a debt of gratitude for that. No embellishment necessary.

Worlds Apart #2 (©2003 by Richard X. Moore)

Note: the photo above has resided at www.photosig.com since I created  it more than 8 years ago. It’s a great site and it helped me enormously as I developed as a photographer. I still maintain a portfolio there, although I don’t use the site much these days.

Check it out.

RXM

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2 Comments

  1. I had never really paid much attention to Steve Jobs, embarrassing to admit. I just thought it was an Apple thing, and since I used PCs, didn’t see the bigger picture. With his death, I’ve realized his significance. As much as I cannot live without most of current technology, I do sometimes wonder who is tracking its impact on humanity. How is it really changing us? Americans, at least, only tend to think of the positive impacts of a new technology, according to the 1980s era “In Absence of the Sacred,” by Jerry Mander. I wonder about this mostly in regard to my adult children, and especially as my video game and Smart Phone addicted son anticipates the birth of his first child. When I gently suggest that maybe some of that will have to take second place to a baby, he insists he is good at multi-tasking and also, how are his hobbies any different than mine, such as reading? I am not sure I can answer him so he can understand. I am not sure I understand, but I do know there is a huge difference. In regard to digital cameras, I love them and use mine frequently, mostly for work, taking photos to accompany the feature articles I used to write, and using them in presentations and outreach projects. I rarely took photos before digital. When I did, the results were not worth the effort!

    • Thank you, Tanya, for my best-blog-comment-ever!

      I was pretty much in the same place re: Jobs. I thought the wailing and gnashing of teeth surrounding his death was just Apple-geeks mourning their hero. Upon reflection, I had to admit that it was deeper than that.


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