"A computer is the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's a bicycle for our minds." - Steve Jobs (as tweeted by Lance Armstrong)
"The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented." - Pres. Obama
I'm not a huge Apple fan. I'm not a Steve Jobs disciple per se, but I recognize what Apple has meant to the world, and when I purchased my last computer if money had been no factor I would have bought a Macbook.
I only recently obtained an iPhone, and while I do enjoy my iPhone I have not looked at is a tool that has changed my life, though in subtle ways it has. But as I follow the Occupy Wall Street movement on twitter each day I use my iPhone much more often than a PC or my laptop. And I know that many of those involved are using iPhones or its non-Apple counterparts (which were obviously inspired by the iPhone) and Macbooks and laptops to communicate with the wide world. All of this personal technology, technology that I tried to imagine as a kid but utterly failed to foresee, has given a VOICE to the individual that can be heard worldwide.
Remember the Arab Spring? Remember how people in those places got information out using technology that wasn't available ten years ago? Remember how the world "listened" on that same technology? People have wanted a conversation about how the world is arranged for a long time, but we have only just gained the collective virtual space to have that conversation. People like Steve Jobs made that possible.
Innovation like the iPhone is rarely about making money, but about making your dreams and visions come alive and sharing the outcome with the world, not to gain, but to give.
Many who oppose or scorn the OWS movement are critical that the protestors are complaining about corporate greed, but are waving around their iPhones and such. But those phones, those computers, camera and other technological tools have finally made this revolution possible. Why not use the tools that we've been given? And what better tools to use, than tools given to the world by a man who did not seem bent on corporate power and greed, but on building a dream and giving it away. Of course we've had to pay for these things. It costs money to make them. But our society is built on such a complex line of supply and demand, needs and wants that there is truly no way to divorce ourselves from corporate corruption completely without living in abject poverty in the wilderness.
Its easy to call the protestors "spoiled brats" and "dirty hippies" or "leftist socialists" but from what I've seen there is a huge cross section of the population that are joining the protests. Its not just college kids who want and excuse to camp out in the park and smoke pot. I'm sure there are some of those, but they are not the majority. And I'm sure some of those who have valid concerns are also using the opportunity for other, less productive pursuits. That is human nature. My wish is that for the time being that everyone would get serious, maintain credibility and stay focused on what is important.
I saw thirtysomething parents at the protest in Denver. I saw middle aged women that looked like they were off to a garden party. I saw clean cut professional looking young men and women. I saw older hippies and older professionals. Many people were wearing belts with their shirts tucked in. And I also saw green mohawks and lots of facial piercings. I saw guys who looked like football or rugby jocks. I saw minorities. I saw teenagers. I saw rednecks. I saw a majority of people without green (or other colored) mohawks or facial piercings. I saw women in "mom jeans." I saw fanny packs. I saw articulate people. I saw not so articulate people. I saw men. I saw women. I saw kids. I saw cyclists. I saw motorists. I did not see anyone who was obviously a democrat or a republican. I did not see anyone who was not patriotic. I did not see anyone who was violent. I did not see or hear anyone who did not know why they were there. In fact, most people were very clear in why they were fed up, dissatisfied with the current state of affairs and why they wanted things to change. They were not whining. They were not trying to get out of paying their bills or out of working for a living. They're just tired of working so hard only to get beat down continually by a system that is designed to maximize profit. We don't want profit. We want to live. The American Dream isn't about being filthy rich for everyone. Some people are okay with living in a modest house on a quiet street and driving a five year old car. But I won't sacrifice my modest American Dream so someone else can be filthy rich.
Anyway, it seems as if Steve Jobs' passing is relevant to this movement, to many participating and to many spectating if for no other reason becuase his inventions have made it all possible.
I have noticed some glitches in my twitter feed the past couple of days. It's frustrating that something so significant in our history is going on and instead of seeing #OccupyWallStreet in the "Trends" we see #puttwowordstogethermakeaninsult and #AmandaKnox. Are the rumors true that JP Morgan has a lot of money invested in twitter so there is censorship of the hashtags related to Occupy Wall Street? Really, can more people be tweeting about the latest Cheeze Doodle promotion than a protest numbering in the thousands in New York City? With hundreds being arrested?
But twitter (thankfully) isn't the only outlet for news. Thank heavens we have the mass media. Of course they've been faithfully covering the movement since its earliest days. Wait, what? What do you mean they didn't pick it up until 700 protestors were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge? I don't believe you.
Corporations may be responsible for bringing us computers, food, energy and the other things we need to survive on this planet, but that doesn't mean we are not allowed to use our human energy and ingenuity and the tools we have at our disposal to fight back against corruption, greed and the erosion of our democratic powers.
Go ride your bike!