Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hard to remain emotionally detached


So, I'm at the inaugural conference for SXSW Eco this week in Austin, Texas, this week. I had the privilege of seeing Philippe Cousteau Jr. speak yesterday, and will report on his talk on SmartPlanet for Monday. Need to sort through the new investment/financing program being started byEarthEcho that he announced at the end of his speech. (Cousteau Jr.'s big thing is helping get youth involved in ocean conservation efforts.)

Anyway, I was reminded of what a sap I can be, when he played a brief video clip that shows the decline of the coral reefs in the marine park off the Florida Keys. Got kind of teary-eyed.

I should mention that I am a diver. The sort of diver who becomes more and more addicted to the activity with every minute of downtime that I log. Still trying to decide whether my dive with the whale shark in Hawaii OR my dive with an entire school of reef squid off Roatan (Honduras) was my favorite.

Being teary-eyed during a conference keynote is not good when you're supposed to remain objective about what you are covering. Another reason to spend a couple of days -- rather than a couple of hours -- sorting through my notes.

Sigh. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Goodbye to my mom's most influential boss, Steve Jobs

I have to confess: I had a different ringside seat for the career of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs than many of the journalists working themselves into a frenzy this evening over his passing. My mother worked with early sales training and marketing team at Apple, where she was present at the birth of both Lisa and Macintosh. I've even used an Apple III. Which, yes, kind of dates me but I don't care this evening.

So I know that Mr. Jobs wasn't exactly the world's kindest employer. But there was always the sense and belief that world-changing activities were happening in those buildings constructed on top of Silicon Valley's once-bountiful fruit orchards. There was purpose.

The Steve Jobs that I was, ironically, describing to someone in a bar literally minutes before I heard about his passing was the most charismatic, inspired technology executive I have ever met. I have witnessed, in person, the infamous reality distortion field. Yes, I met met others who rivaled his genius but none came close to his charisma or intuition about what worked, and didn't.

I'm also thinking a lot about another Steve this evening, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who must feel this loss acutely. They were nothing alike, but they were brothers.

My heart breaks for both of Mr. Jobs' families -- Apple employees and (first and foremost) the wife and children who were kind enough to share his genius with the rest of the world.

R.I.P., Mr. Jobs. More than any other person, you made me believe that technology had the potential to change the world and that I should help spread that gospel.