Saturday, January 21, 2012

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I’m always wary when people who behave terribly, often in the workplace, are described in a slightly forgiving way as ‘complicated’.

Aren’t well all complicated human beings? Does that mean we can all behave as intolerable bullies?

At times, Walter Isaacson’s biography of the Steve Jobs tends towards this “oh he is complicated’ rationale to explain away Job’s awful behaviour in the workplace and in his personal life.

But fortunately, Isaacson as a biographer is able to distance himself from his subject and call Jobs out on his distortions of reality and at times deluded behaviour.

This does stop this book from being a hagiography, though it would have benefited from just a little more distance between the author and his subject.

Overall, this biography is a fascinating testimonial of how one person completely moulded a company to his will and in doing so forced a whole lot of industries to change.

I found the later chapters the most interesting. They focused on the development of the iPhone and iPad and Isaacson provides a detailed account from inside Apple on how Jobs and his team created these game changing products.

Isaacson also traces the often antagonistic relationship between the two titans of the tech world: Jobs and Bill Gates. He also clearly explains the divergent philosophies of Apple and Microsoft/Google, that is the clash between the 'closed' and 'open' system.

I would have liked more about the relationship between Google and Apple, but I guess that topic could take up another book.

This book is worth reading because it not only provides an indepth and fascinating account of one of the key innovators of our time, but also gives you a better understanding of the players in the tech world like Intel, Microsoft, Google and also entertainment industry too.

In the end, Isaacsons's biography reveals to us some of the brute realities of the inspiring tale of Steve Jobs, who built a company where 'technology and creativity' intersect.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Some light holiday reading

It's holiday time and I'm up for some light fun reading, books that 'zip along'.

But of course, this year I got some pretty heavy reading for Christmas presents, including:

So with my brain protesting against such a heavy workload, I thought a nice crime/thriller was in order.

I downloaded the first in Sue Grafton's Alphabet series, A is Alibi, featuring PI Kinsey Millhone.

I've been wanting to get hooked on another series for a while and had often seen Grafton's books around the library and in bookstores and thought it was time I gave her a shot.

Overall, it was a good page turner and Millhone is a smart, funny, fiercly independent and likable character. The story begins when Millhone is hired to the find the 'real' killer of divorce attorney Laurence Fife. She encounters a few dead bodies on the way and with a few twist and turns in the plot, Millhone ends up solving the mystery.

I found the last part of the novel a bit of a stretch, with an unconvincing shift to the action genre that was a bit confusing. That being said, I did finish the book in a couple of sittings so Grafton is an efffective crime writer.

I'm just not sure whether I'll continue with the series, as niether the character or PI genre really grabbed me that intensely.

I guess I'll just have to find another series out there to start.

I recently discovered a great website for called Brain Pickings, which is one these cool 'curated' sites that brings together all things literary and cultural. The latest enewsletter featured the 2011's best biographies and memoirs.

Playing around on my new best friend the Flipboard app on iPad, I've noticed that instead of 'editors' or 'editing' it's all about 'curating' and 'curated' content.

So that being said, my latest career aspiration is to be a 'cool curator' on the Flipboard!