During the holiday season, I read the official biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. At the beginning I thought it was again another object to nourish Steve Jobs cult. Even though I like Apple products, I do not like the “guru” strategy that minimizes the creative teams behind. But I must say that this biographical work shows more than just the life of a “geeky hero”. It shows the life of a man, that was not proud of everything he did but more than that, it shows an interesting idea of Counter Culture.
The book was written by Walter Isaacson, an important media personality as former CEO of CNN and the managing Director of Time magazine. He also wrote the biography of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Kissinger. In a way by adding Steve Jobs to his bibliography, Walter Isaacson generates a sort of historical retrospective about Counter Culture throughout out the ages as all these greatmen were the perfect ambassadors of this idea.
According to Wikipedia, Counterculture (also written counter-culture) is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, orsubculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior deviates from the societal norm. It is a neologism attributed to Theodore Roszak, author of The Making of a Counter Culture. Although distinct countercultural undercurrents have existed in many societies, here the term refers to a more significant, visible phenomenon that reaches critical mass and persists for a period of time. A countercultural movement expresses the ethos, aspirations, and dreams of a specific population during an era—a social manifestation of zeitgeist. It is important to distinguish between “counterculture,” “subculture,” and “fringe culture”.
Countercultural milieux in 19th-century Europe included Romanticism, Bohemianism, and the Dandy. Another movement existed in a more fragmentary form in the 1950s, both in Europe and the United States, in the form of the Beat generation, followed in the 1960s by the hippies and anti-Vietnam War protesters.
The term came to prominence in the news media, as it was used to refer to the social revolution that swept North America, Western Europe, Japan,Australia, and New Zealand during the 1960s and early 1970s. We can see that Steve Jobs was raised during this period. It is not surprising that for many years the slogan for Apple was: “Think Different”.
42 chapters, 630 pages, from his childhood, to the birth of Apple, the NeXT episode until the latest years. It is interesting to see how Counter-Culture can be part of the main strategy of a company, if you are a genius outsider. I like the chapter 25, in which we discover the birth of the 1997 famous campaign “Think Different”. Basically, it came from the assumption that “Apple is about creative people who think outside the box, who want to use computers to help them change the world“.
This gives us a great key to understand partially the success of such company. While most of the big computers builders, like IBM, SONY, TOSHIBA or HP always tried to prove how great their computers were, Apple was always about THE PEOPLE. Computers are just wires and electronically components. It is what we are capable to do with it that makes the world better or different. So while all the computer sharks were fighting with each other in a sort of bloody red ocean, Apple went to the big blue ocean, meaning, to a new model in which competition was not interested. Please note that Apple always talked about people, not only about customers but also their own employees. You do not buy a brand, you join a community of cool and creative people. In a decade in which Social networks and community are important words, Apple built its own since the 70’s.
So, if you missed this book last year because you could not find an interest, you may want to check it out in this beginning of 2012.
info sourced at Walter Isaacson book and Wikipedia.