Steve Jobs didn't invent the computer, or the cell phone, or the portable music player, but he did help to make them popular. He wasn't the first to use software to turn those devices into a jail, but he was the first to make it cool to be in jail.
Steve Jobs was no friend of the computer user: Most people think that the products they buy should obey them, not someone else, but the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) found in most of Apple's devices and software takes the control of the product's functionality out of the hands of the owner, overriding it and bending it to the will of someone else. Everyone deserves the freedom to do what they want with the things that they buy, but Steve made it cool to give that up.
Everyone deserves to have control over their own computers. They should have the freedom to run their programs (or "Apps" in Apple's lingo) to do whatever they want, to study and learn from them, and to be able to modify and distribute them so that everyone can benefit. If you can't run them for any purpose that you want, if you can't study and modify them that they do (or don't do) whatever you want, then who is your computer really taking its orders from? Certainly not you, which is where the control needs to be. If your computer isn't controlled by you then it's controlled by someone else. Since our lives are so dependent on technology today, the question of who controls the technology is really just another way of asking who control us. Without this control you're essentially subjugated and, just like DRM, Steve made people think this was cool.
I think that will be Steve's longest lasting legacy: That he made millions of people think it was cool to give up their freedom and control over the technology in their lives in exchange for proprietary, DRM-encumbered, user-subjugating devices and software.
Copyright © 2011 Jason Self. See license.shtml for license conditions. Please copy and share.