Reading a random blog link I came across in the morning this was the first thing to pop in to my head. Have few people talk about you and make sure those few people count, in contrast to having millions of ordinary laymen to praise and follow you like a god. I’m talking about Dennis Ritchie and Steve Jobs.
Dennis Ritchie, an academic who was more focused on contribution than securing market segments passed away within a few weeks time frame as Steve Jobs did but was massively overshadowed by the corporate demigod’s death and mourning. Millions of Apple fan(boy)s wept for months all over Facebook and other places in the Internet, repeating that the world lost its only noteworthy man, that Steve Jobs would even change the Heaven it self. Dennis Ritchie didn’t receive that much of a praise. Few who knew how valuable he was made sure that the his demise was noted, but there was no mass gatherings at the Calvary mountain, no mass hysteria over who would drive innovation for the world, and no Facebook display pictures dedicated to him.
Basically what happened was that Steve Jobs had millions of fanboys gathering in a cult, his personality cult, that would ultimately provide the market for his products, the computers in shiny covers (The only instances I’ve used a Mac are at some tech conventions, and I’d never deny that Apple’s design is great). They wept when their god died, just like how the North Koreans wept when Kim Jong-Ill died. Steve Jobs had created this image of a hippy tech guy who is supposed to be a rebel, which all turns out to be a beautiful masquerade for the totalitarian corporation he ran.
Steve was a major player in building a voice for a closed platform. Needless to say like making the dogs bark at the same people coming to release them, his fanboys did the majority of the work in completing this task. Apple openly supported SOPA, and to this date despises FOSS movement (although Mac OS was forked from BSD). Steve went on a pointless rant on how Android was a stolen product when his own company was founded on a bunch of stolen products (Great artists aren’t they). He had this great talent in making people think that he actually means it when he talks about stuff (especially “open web”, “freedom”, “convenience”), that he used effectively to push products like slightly better versions of iPhone and iPad. His rebel nature? My ass, he was an ultra-religious who decided to ban any app which contained pornographic material. When people who are stereo-typed to be monopolist corporate suits like Bill Gates spent a record budget on charity Steve Jobs spent zero dollars. Do we need to take in to account how he refused to provide child support for his daughter conceived out of wed-lock? Yes I’m targeting his personal life, why? because his personal life is part of Apple’s products.
The truth is one can go on talking about Steve like this for hours, but coming to the same conclusion, which Richard Stallman put into beautiful words, although a bit harshly.
06 October 2011 (Steve Jobs)
Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.
As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone.” Nobody deserves to have to die – not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs’ malign influence on people’s computing.
Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.
RMS suffered heavily for this, but he said what had to be said. He called a spade a spade.
Dennis Ritchie on the other hand passed away without much of a calamity. He had no personality cult, he had no fanboys. Hell, he didn’t even try to wear the same “hipstor”-wear for thirty years just to maintain a market. I haven’t seen his picture on anyone’s FB display picture.
The point in this post is that if Steve Jobs had another 5 years to live he would probably have spent that time expanding the tablet market through the next iPad series and trying muffle out Flash from the web, or trying to kill Android which already seems to be matching statistics with the iPhone. If Dennis Ritchie had that time, we would’ve seen the next internet protocol, or the next UNIX (which he already took part in when creating Plan 9) or whatever the next big barrier-breaking invention through Bell Labs. Why don’t we take Dennis’ personal life and criticize him? Because it was never the product of his inventions. What he had to offer to the world had nothing to do with how he dressed.
Following is the video from the blog entry which has some testimonials from Dennis Ritchie’s colleagues.
Just like I said, have few important people talk about you.