On Grieving for the Famous

Two quick things about reactions to Steve Jobs’s passing:

1. Bill Gates would get a much bigger outpouring if he were to pass away under similar circumstances than people think. It would just be of a completely different character because the only people connecting emotionally to what Gates did would be reacting to his philanthropy and his business success. They might overlap strongly with the people who continue to fail to get why Apple did so well after Jobs’s return and attribute his success to showmanship and marketing. The reason is that nobody connects emotionally to any of Gates’s technical work. Nobody loves Windows. And fewer hate Windows than old Mac partisans would like to believe. But legions love and hate the iPhone, iPod, iPad, or the Mac. If you don’t understand the difference, I can’t teach you in this post.

2. Dave Winer complaining that Steve Jobs is viewed too nicely in his bio is like Mubarak complaining that Lenin is viewed too nicely in bios. It may be true, but just because you’re gonna be a footnote in history doesn’t make you not an asshole, too. Hey, at least you’re a footnote: I haven’t even achieved that. And maybe you’re like Jobs at NeXT, a genius between highs. But there’s no denying “mercurial” would be a polite way to describe your interactions with others.

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