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Posts tagged real artists ship

by Andy Crouch for Culture Making

Steve Jobs was a supreme example of a culture maker. 

He made cultural goods, in every sense of that word. “Real artists ship,” he famously told his engineers. Culture is only changed when you make more of it, and, boy, did Steve Jobs make more of it.

He pursued excellence, and in particular he pursued beauty. In every market Apple entered, it did things more cleanly, elegantly, and beautifully than its competitors. It’s not too much to credit Steve Jobs with the return of beauty to the center of our culture’s aspirations.

He built teams. Yes, by all accounts he could be an abrasive manager, to say the least (though one hears fewer stories of that from the last ten years, when Apple had been rescued from disaster and, perhaps, illness had chastened him in some ways). But he pulled together teams of 3, 12, and 120 that demonstrated tenacious loyalty and disciplined creativity in the otherwise fickle world of Silicon Valley. He was a celebrity, but he was not a rock star—he was a leader. That makes all the difference in the world.

But all this, and so much more, is fairly obvious. I think something less obvious will be Steve Jobs’s greatest legacy.

The most fundamental question of our technological age is this: Will technology make us more, or less, fully human?

Steve Jobs just may have decisively shifted the answer to that question. He embodied the hope that the answer is more. 

The Mac was launched with this brilliant promise: “1984 won’t be like 1984.” Apple’s products respected human beings—their embodiment, their quest for beauty and meaning and even joy—in a way that their competitors’ did not. And Steve himself, who exuded calm and confidence and vision even while he stirred consumers to frenzies of desire and competitors to distraction, envy, and imitation, represented our vision of ourselves as we hope we can be: not slaves to technology, but free and creative users of it.

In this broken, beautiful world, there are no pure icons—but neither are there any completely empty idols. Apple’s bitten apple is not an icon—like all idols, the more fervent the worship the more it will disappoint. And yet, it is, and Steve Jobs was, a sign of something true and worth seeking: a fully human life. For all of us who seek that life, the only proper response to Steve Jobs’s extraordinary culture making is: thank you.

Andy:
from "Success, and Farming vs. Mining," by Wil Shipley, Call Me Fishmeal, 2 April 2011

The people who really change the world are farmers. Steve Jobs works constantly on his products, every waking minute of every day. He lives and sleeps and breathes them. He’s obsessive and crazy and kind of scary — but he’s trying to build something. He didn’t just say, “Here’s my idea: smart phone! BAM! Go make it happen. Ima jump in the sauna.” That simply doesn’t work. God is in the details. In the implementation.

The most amazing thing about getting to go to TED was discovering that all the people I admire are farmers. The doctors and DNA-researchers and dancers and chocolate-makers and oceanographers and cosmologists and investors all have one thing in common: they are total nerds. They work on the thing they love literally all the time. You can’t talk to them without talking about their passion.

The secret of success turns out to be so incredibly simple: Work your ass off. Really care about what you’re creating, not the fame or fortune you’ll get. You’ll succeed.

Nate:
from ”Beaver Overthinking Dam”, The Onion, 19 April 2006 :: via 3quarksdaily

Messner has already overthought and razed two dams this season alone. He dismissed the proportions of the first as “aesthetically dysfunctional,” and the second was built out of cottonwood, which he called “a mistake.” But, according to Messner, the latter experience got him thinking about different woods in ways he had never considered.

“What woods are the sturdiest, or the most visually pleasing?” Messner said. “What does a birch dam say? Everyone seems to love sugar maple, but it’s such an overfamiliar scrub tree. Would I be making a stronger statement with willow? I don’t want this to be one of those generic McDams.”

“What do I have to say—as a beaver and as an artist?” he added.

After much thought, Messner decided to reconstruct the anterior section of the dam with poplar wood on Tuesday, after he finished “highly necessary” preparatory work chewing the branches into uniform-sized interlocking sticks. Yet such tasks struck fellow lodge members as excessive.

“Get to work, get to work, build the dam, build the dam,” Cyril Kyree said as he dragged a number of logs into the shallow lick of river where the rest of the lodge has built their nests. “Chew-chew-chew. Need a mate. Build the dam.”