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Friday, October 07, 2011

There's a difference between changing the world and selling it toys

Saw a Tweet yesterday which read:
"They're leaving flowers outside the Apple Store. What has happened to us?"
Couldn't help but sympathise. Steven Spielberg described Steve Jobs as "the greatest inventor since Edison", which can't be right. What about the airplane? The rocket to the moon? The technology which enables keyhole surgery? Antibiotics?

More to the point in Steve Jobs' case, he probably wouldn't have claimed to have invented the personal computer or MP3 player, the products with which he's most associated. He was a man who had a genius for perfecting such products and then marketing them. However nobody mourns a brilliant marketeer.

Did he "change the world", as all and sundry were claiming yesterday? You could say that he was a brilliant maker of toys. That's not to diminish him or the sense of loss of those around him. I've got all his toys and I love them.  But I do worry what our possession of these toys may be doing to our sense of proportion.

Another Tweet I saw yesterday came from Richard Coles.
"William Tyndale, translator of the Bible into English that ploughboys might be as learned as bishops - burned for his trouble on this day."
Now William Tyndale. There's a man who did change the world. Got no thanks for it either.