Kobun Chino Otogawa, Steve Jobs' Zen teacher. Courtesy kobun-sama.org.
At PLOS, Steve Silberman goes in depth into the influence that Steve's Buddhist teachers had on Apple's mission and its products.
"I found myself in a unique position to write it, since I knew Jobs' teacher Kobun Chino, and studied at Zen Center around the same time that Steve did," Silberman tells Boing Boing. "I include a quote from a never-published interview with Steve at the end."
As a young seeker in the ’70s, Jobs didn’t just dabble in Zen, appropriating its elliptical aesthetic as a kind of exotic cologne. He turns out to have been a serious, diligent practitioner who undertook lengthy meditation retreats at Tassajara — the first Zen monastery in America, located at the end of a twisting dirt road in the mountains above Carmel — spending weeks on end “facing the wall,” as Zen students say, to observe the activity of his own mind.
Why would a former phone phreak who perseverated over the design of motherboards be interested in doing that? Using the mind to watch the mind, and ultimately to change how the mind works, is known in cognitive psychology as metacognition. Beneath the poetic cultural trappings of Buddhism, what intensive meditation offers to long-term practitioners is a kind of metacognitive hack of the human operating system (a metaphor that probably crossed Jobs’ mind at some point.) Sitting zazen offered Jobs a practical technique for upgrading the motherboard in his head.
All week long, excerpts have been leaking out, with little snippets of the late Apple CEO's reported thoughts on alternative medicine, Android, Bill Gates, being strategically mean to people, Obama, what apps Obama's staffers had on their iPads, cancer, teachers' unions and labor rights, Issey Miyake turtlenecks, the adoptive parents he loved and rebelled against, and the biological parents who gave him up for adoption (whom he is said to have referred to as "sperm and egg donors").
The first real review, by Janet Maslin in the New York Times, is out today.
[Video Link] BusinessWeek asked me to write my "Story About Steve." I never met Steve, but I had a story to tell. Here it is.
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In May 2002 I got a call from my friend Alberta who asked if I'd like to be in an Apple TV commercial. Alberta had a friend who was an art director at Apple, and he needed people in Los Angeles who'd switched from a Windows machine to a Mac. That was me.
The next day, I got calls from Apple and Chiat/Day, and they e-mailed me a thick stack of forms to sign. Most of them swearing me to secrecy.
The day after that, I drove 15 minutes to a soundstage in Hollywood. At least 100 people from Apple and Chiat/Day were on the set. Errol Morris, the director, was hiding inside a white tent on the far end of the warehouse-like soundstage. I could hear his voice booming through an amplifier. Someone on the set told me he was using his invention called the Interrotron to interview the switchers. "Just wait until you see how it works," she said.
My taping was scheduled for 12 p.m. I was a little early, so I grabbed a bagel from craft services and looked for a place to sit. All the chairs on the set were occupied, but not by people. The Chiat/ Day workers had set their laptops and backpacks on all the chairs with hand-drawn signs that said "DON'T TOUCH." I asked a young woman in a smart gray outfit where I could sit.
A brief roundup of some of the pieces observing the passing of Steve Jobs, by journalists who covered Apple and Jobs, and peers who knew him.
Steven Levy's piece in Wired was beautiful. Levy first interviewed Jobs in the mid-1980s.
At the New York Times, John Markoff wrote the obituary. Markoff has been at it in Silicon Valley for about the same number of years, and he wrote the book What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer , in which Jobs is a central figure.
Brian Lam, the former Gizmodo editor who now runs Wirecutter, wrote a very personal story about his interaction with Jobs around the infamous "stolen" iPhone 4 prototype.
John Gruber's piece is a must: "Universe Dented, Grass Underfoot".
Walt Mossberg shared some personal observations at the Wall Street Journal.
PBS NewsHour hosted a panel last night with Vint Cerf (Google), Steve Case (AOL), and me. The video for that segment is here. Both Cerf and Case knew the man personally, and had interacted with him and the company he ran, for decades. Just before we went on-air, a member of the NewsHour team pointed me to this amazing 1985 NewsHour segment on Apple and Jobs, during a time when the company was fumbling. John Sculley was CEO. "I believe there is no such thing as a home computer market," he says in the piece. Things were different then. Lots of mullets and mainframes. Read the rest
Mike Daisey wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times arguing against Jobs hagiography. Some might say "too soon," but it's a compelling piece, with much to think about.
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The Steve Jobs who founded Apple as an anarchic company promoting the message of freedom, whose first projects with Stephen Wozniak were pirate boxes and computers with open schematics, would be taken aback by the future that Apple is forging. Today there is no tech company that looks more like the Big Brother from Apple’s iconic 1984 commercial than Apple itself, a testament to how quickly power can corrupt.
Here I am, days after I was born, being held by my father in front of the family Macintosh.
Our family has spent an enormous amount of time and effort growing with Apple. My brother and I spent years playing with Kid Pix and Shufflepuck Café. We stayed up late reading through the manuals for Myst and plotting our progress in the provided journal. We collected the bunnies in Power Pete.
My dad bought the iLife suite as soon as it came out. It was a regular joke at home that we were "living the iLIFE!" I made videos for class. We started saving photos on the computer and sharing them with family. Recently, my dad finished scanning all our family photos and videos. It's an invaluable gift to be able to smoothly find photos of my parents' wedding, or to watch my brother being silly at the kitchen table before a cub scout meeting.
When I chose to go to boarding school in northern Maine for my last two years of high school, I bought my first iMac to celebrate. I would never have survived the unexpected challenges of living with a hundred other students surrounded by fifteen feet of snow had I not been able to retreat online and to talk to my mom on iChat on a daily basis. I still IM my mom nearly every day.
And when things went wrong, it was okay to expect perfection from Apple. They made things right for us, every time. Read the rest
Apple has gathered gadget bloggers and tech journalists to unveil an update to the iPhone. Gizmodo, GDGT, and Engadget have boots on the ground and/or liveblogs in the ether (some are covering remotely). Ars Technica and MacWorld liveblogs are down at the time of this blog post. Oh, wait, Gizmodo and GDGT liveblogs are down intermittently too. Geez. Read the rest
Andy Ihnatko explains what's going on in the image above, which was snapped and submitted to him by a reader in Taiwan. Read the rest