Steve Jobs and The Technologies of Freedom

I was never into the black turtlenecks and the cult that grew around him. But if he wasn’t inspirational, then nobody is. Pushing the envelope on tech…coming back from being fired….the way he handled his sickness.

It isn’t well remembered, of course, but Apple had made an early stab at being an online service: EWorld. The successor to AppleLink, it licensed the platform from AOL, syndicated a lot of content, and made some stabs at leveraging the huge Apple community. At a time of forced cutbacks in 1997, and uncomfortable being tied to AOL for technology, Apple gave up on E-World,.

At that time, it seemed to retreat from media and community — our world — to a world that focused on technology innovation. But that was, of course, before it came full circle with iTunes and then its ingenious App Store, which enfranchised thousands and thousands of content entrepreneurs.

A couple of summers ago, there I was in the middle of Yellowstone, miles from anywhere, on a horse back riding adventure. I was enjoying the solitude and nature’s delights. And the lead cowboy pulls me aside, and pulls out an iPhone. He had something to show me: a beautiful Yellowstone app he had created in the off season.

Apple gets criticized for creating a new walled garden, perhaps rightfully so. But I suspect that the legacy of Steve Jobs will ultimately be about his technology of freedom, and his pursuit of excellence. All of it, of course, “designed in California.”