Tuesday, 06 December 2011 21:47

The Steve Jobs' 'industry' just keeps rolling on


COMMENT: Since his death, the life, myths and reality of Steve Jobs all too short a time with us have bombarded the airwaves and cyberspace, generating a growth industry that's sprung up around the late co-founder of Apple.  It's hard not to think much of the activity is about cashing-in on the death of Jobs, not unlike the latest book offering launched today.


We now have the launch of The Zen of Steve Jobs, a new book just published - in the printed form as a paperback, and as an ebook - which the publishers are promoting as 'a tribute memory' of Jobs, and which we are told is a 'graphic narrative' and thoroughly researched interpretation of a well documented period in his life that 'revolutionized technology and design.'

The book, The Zen of Steve Jobs, is published by New Jersey-based Wiley and written by Caleb Melby, a Forbes contributor, and illustrated by JESS3, which we are told is a 'world-renowned creative agency that specializes in data visualization.' Melby, by the way, is a native of Mankato, Minnesota, a town known as the site of America's largest mass hanging, and 'otherwise a nice place,' and had previously written for the Chicago Tribune and The Times of South Africa.

No mention, however, of Melby's knowledge, inside or otherwise, of Steve Jobs, particularly about his well known and much publicised interest in the spiritual, including Zen Buddhism, but it's probably all been published before anyway. Sorry, I did forget to mention that Melby 'currently lives in a variety of places with no wives and no children.'

Anyway, according to the publicity blurb from the publisher, Steve Jobs impacted so many lives, but what 'few understand' is that much of his success was due to collaboration with designers, engineers and the world's premier thinkers.

I haven't read the book, but it covers much of the ground about Jobs' life and his interest in the spiritual and, we're told, that during a difficult time in his life when the great man discovered his spiritual side through a unique friendship with Kobun Chino Otogawa - a Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist priest - and that this spiritual relationship 'ultimately created the foundation behind Jobs' continued innovative success.'

The publisher tell us that The Zen of Steve Jobs is a 'reimagining' of the friendship between Jobs and Kobun, who emigrated to the US from Japan in the early 1970s, and was an 'innovator, lacked appreciation for rules and was passionate about art and design,' and 'was to Buddhism as Jobs was to technology: a renegade and maverick.'

The story moves back and forward in time, we are told, from the 1970s to 2011, but centres on the period after Jobs' exile from Apple in 1985 when he took up intensive study with Kobun, and that their time together was 'integral to the big leaps that Apple took later on with its product design and business strategy.'

And, The Zen of Steve Jobs, connects this period in Jobs' life with key moments in Apple's history, with a section of the book taking place in 1986 at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California where Kobun teaches Jobs kinhin, a walking meditation, and alludes to Jobs' quest to understand ma, a Japanese design concept 'apparent today in the simplicity in all iProducts.'

Sounds like nothing much new that hasn't already been written or reported about Steve Jobs, but worth a read of the eBook version without forking out your hard-earned for the paperback edition.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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