Steven P. Jobs is sick again. Which reminds us that even titans of industry are, yes, mortal. But in the meantime, designer Charis Tsevis has built a graphic monument to Jobs that hammers home his giga-influence on computers and product design: a ten-thousand-pixel wide photo collage that forms Steve’s face out of the products he hath wrought.
If there’s one thing that sums up Steve Jobs, it’s vision. So let’s zoom into the eye of this portrait:
Even in this tiny span of the portrait, we can see a microcosm of Jobs’s iEmpire: iPod, the product that turned Apple from a niche computer concern into a world-dominating music and media company; the iMac, which marked Jobs’s triumphant return to the company he founded and the birth of its reinvigorated product-design ethos (remember the quip, “The back of our computer looks better than the front of anyone else’s”?); you can even see a Mac OS X box in there, which has continually lived up to its self-description as “the world’s most advanced operating system.”
But let’s peer even closer…
To Tsevis’s credit, here at the center of Jobs’s eye are his greatest successes and his occasional misfires. We can see the iPhone and iPad, which may end up being Jobs’ biggest, most world-changing legacies. But we can also see the eMac (a short-lived, cheaper, underpowered version of the iMac meant for schools — my Mom had one and even she found it lacking), as well as the Mac Mini and first-generation Apple TV — two products that failed to catch on despite intriguing designs and intended uses. Even Jobs’s bold-to-a-fault design experiments are in there if you squint: The infamous “Cube” and the “lamp”-style iMac.
Think different, indeed…
Obviously Jobs didn’t do all this by himself. His longtime design-genius-in-residence, Jony Ive, can take a huge amount of credit, as can scores of unknown engineers and product designers who’ve whipsawed between Jobs’s legendary leadership and equally-legendary (some would say “lunatic”) capriciousness.
But if this mega-image communicates anything, it’s not “Apple rules, others drool!!1” or some other techno-partisan yawp. It’s that Jobs’s legacy, when he finally shuffles off this mortal coil, is essentially this: He created a new world within our world. Whether you micro-analyze the details or just enjoy the delight of the big picture, it’s the world we live in now.