Stallman On Jobs

October 09, 2011

By now, you’ve probably read Stallman’s piece on Steve Jobs :

Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.

As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone.” Nobody deserves to have to die - not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs’ malign influence on people’s computing.

Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective.

Tristan opines:

Stallman is sober proof that idealism can be taken too far.

I agree, but there’s more to it than that. Jobs was an idealist, too; it’s just that the two have very different ideals. Design and freedom. They don’t contrast, but they do conflict. Give someone free reign, and they may be more inclined to do what they want. Ask someone to design something, and restraint and limitation — antitheses of freedom — are likely part of the result.

Stallman’s social interactions famously tend to be strange, if not distasteful, and there may or may not be medical explanations for that. At some point, however, you have to realize that putting differences aside and giving someone their final peace isn’t just an expected gesture of society; it’s a smart one.

Gates did it:

Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives.

Colleagues, competitors and friends. No better, more honest way of putting it. And Microsoft had their flags at half-mast for two days.

Google’s Vic Gundotra did it:

They have been a part of my life for decades. Even when I worked for 15 years for Bill Gates at Microsoft, I had a huge admiration for Steve and what Apple had produced.

But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I’ll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.

To one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever met, my prayers and hopes are with you Steve.

Samsung did it:

Chairman Steve Jobs introduced numerous revolutionary changes to the information technology industry and was a great entrepreneur.

His innovative spirit and remarkable accomplishments will forever be remembered by people around the world.

…and proceeded to delay an Apple-competing product launch. Socially considerate and likely economically smart at the same time.

There simply is no acceptable explanation on why Stallman can’t do it.