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The Book of Jobs: a non-hagiographic biography of Apple's biggest man

Posted: , by Victor H.

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The Book of Jobs: a non-hagiographic biography of Apple's biggest man
We don’t usually base our stories on opinions in other publications, but this one is an exception. Maureen Tkacik, formerly of the WSJ and Jezebel, has penned a deep look at Steve Jobs without venerating him and it’s the best tech writing we’ve seen in a while. 

Tkacik focuses on working conditions in Apple factories, but avoids the cliches of solely looking at wages and long-hour shifts, and finds the reason for the suicide elsewhere - in the lack of communication, dehumanification of workers, overseers, guards, everyone in the system, praising of a gadget way above thousands of humans each day at factories.

Steve Jobs’ was not to blame for underpaid workers and the long hour shifts - and the recent Nightline report on Foxconn confirmed that actually conditions there are above the average in China - but it was this inhumane obsession with gadgets that devalues the human that Tkacik sees as most debilitating.

“So he jumped out of his 12th-story window to protest the perverse pathology that values inanimate objects over the humans that make them. Nowhere in his final text messages or chat transcripts did he mention long hours or low wages,” Tkacik ponders on the suicide of Sun Dunyang who started the suicide wave. 

Eventually, this got media attention and Foxconn wages jumped by 30% for millions, but the corporation still missed the point.

The writing touches also on Jobs personal life - his love life also, painting a different picture of a self-centric man, often ignorant to downright arogant in relationships. It mentions the crazy influence of drugs, LSD in particular, on Jobs. That could have been one of the things that created Steve’s “distortion field.”

The article draws a cruel bottomline: “There once lived one of those really obstinate assholes who will constantly tell you he couldn’t change his assholic ways if it killed him. It killed him.”

It’s definitely one of the most fascinating tech reads we’ve seen, so hit the source link below without hesitation even if you happen not to agree with some of the points. Of course, we’re looking forward to your reaction to this take on Jobs - what are your thoughts, do you agree with it?

source: Reuters

Image courtesy of John Andrew.

8 Comments
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posted on 24 Feb 2012, 09:12 2

1. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


aw jeez, phone arena is set to make me procrastinate my work again, lol. time to read the source...

i dig that graphic BTW

posted on 24 Feb 2012, 09:19 4

2. Victor.H (Posts: 406; Member since: 27 May 2011)


Procrastinating work is the reason we exist.

posted on 24 Feb 2012, 09:30 1

3. tward291 (Posts: 559; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


you cant be serious with that picture

posted on 24 Feb 2012, 09:44 2

4. Victor.H (Posts: 406; Member since: 27 May 2011)


It takes reading the source first to find out.

posted on 24 Feb 2012, 10:05 5

5. wumberpeb (Posts: 414; Member since: 14 Mar 2011)


What an absolutely fascinating read...

Upon reading this, I form the conclusion that many of us already knew about how we perceive Steve Jobs and the culture he created with Apple's products;

Steve was that unique blend of egomaniac genius and stubborn asshole that allowed him to bring his vivid ideals of simple elegance to fruition. It worked brilliantly. Selfish and socially inept doesn't generally lend well to running a business, or being a great human being, but its fair to say that the beautiful landscape he created in his mind and personality he showed the world built the incredibly successful company we see today.

Easy to hate him but hard to not respect him. I probably wouldn't be typing this on my Xoom without Steve Jobs.

posted on 24 Feb 2012, 11:24 4

6. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


awesome read, thanks for turning me onto it victor.

such articles are desperately needed to disillusion those who think veganism is a cure for cancer, or that the jobs is some sort of demigod.

it always frustrated me when reporters treated an interview with jobs less like an interview with an accidental public phenomenon and more like an audience with a wizard.

that article had some great illustrations too, i especially liked the one with the foxconn workers peeking out from behind the giant logo.

great read. if anyone has the attention span, or like me the ability to push all work aside; i highly recommend it.

posted on 24 Feb 2012, 11:46 3

7. tedkord (Posts: 4288; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Well, of course the conditions in Foxconn's facilities weren't Steve Jobs' fault. But, he was an enabler. I mean, if your child is a drug addict, and you give him money whenever he asks, you're not responsible for him buying drugs with it - but you do have some responsibility if you know what he's doing. (China is China, human rights are not a priority to the ruling class there. I blame SJ more for moving the jobs over there and not putting Americans to work. And with $30 worth of parts/labor, and a $650 selling price, I think there was room in the margins for decent paying jobs here)

However, as to the Nightline report and the upcoming observer reports - they're not worth the paper they're printed on. You'll never get the true story on these places when you ask to come in, and tell them when you will. Hell, I see that at my place of employment here in the USA. It's a dog and pony show when a CEO or politician or other bigwig wants to tour. Suddenly, after years of neglect, the whole place is scrubbed, polished and shined. Equipment that hasn't worked for years is fixed. They pay overtime to contractors to sweep the streets. And they very carefully control who gets to interact with the visitors.

And, that's with no human rights abuses or crimes to cover up - imagine what went down at a sweatshop. We're already hearing that the kept all underage workers out during the visit.

posted on 24 Feb 2012, 16:15 2

8. atheisticemetic (Posts: 377; Member since: 18 Dec 2011)


“There once lived one of those really obstinate assholes who will constantly tell you he couldn’t change his assholic ways if it killed him. It killed him.”

So that a man reaps...so does he sow

he wont be forgotten for "fighting the machine" so to speak, I however will never forget the fact that he was a schmuck

I respect him in the nerd world (he was innovative to those who hated using windows machine and wanted simplicity), but absolutely despise him as a person (deny your daughter?) and have little to no respect for the man.

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