Monday, October 31, 2011

Steve Jobs, RIP

It is hard for me to think of someone, outside of my parents and family, who has had as profound an effect on my life as Steve Jobs did. As I sit here writing, I have an iPhone in my pocket, an iPad in my briefcase, a Macintosh computer on my desk at home (on which I have iTunes installed to download records), and an iPod in my desk drawer which I use when traveling or reading to listen to music. I bought my first Macintosh computer in 1984, an age when some of my current students were not even alive. It was a Mac IIe, with 1 meg RAM and a 5 ¼” floppy drive, and it so transformed my life as an editor and as a teacher that I cannot conceive of what life would be without it.

In 1984 I was early in my career with the JMPT, not yet its editor. Working with Dr. Roy Hildebrandt, every time we revised a manuscript which had been submitted to JMPT we had to have it retyped. Initially, we had to do this by hand; we then obtained an early IBM typewriter which could store up to a single page of text, which simplified the task a little bit but remained imperfect. With many submissions each month, our time was spent in reworking papers and typing them up again. That first Mac seemed magical- a full paper would be stored on this little piece of floppy material, and we could easily make changes and see them immediately reformat a page. OMG! Such power in that little piece of technology!

I also remember my first cell phone. Actually, it was called a bag phone, since it was the size of a regular land-line phone but was carried in a bag with a 9-volt battery. I imagine some of our students would not understand; they have grown up with cell technology. And that bag phone was only good for making phone calls. I look at the little device in my pocket, and I can make phone calls, but I can also access many programs that enhance productivity- or waste time- and I can read my email (and send email), access the web and watch movies.

In the classroom we use various technologies, most of which were either developed by Steve Jobs and Apple or Bill Gates via Windows. These have transformed education. We talk about Millennials, and how they learn differently than earlier generations (I am a baby boomer). I went to chiropractic college, and I sat in hours of lecture. Sometimes, the instructor had mimeographs of material, or an overhead on a acetate, and then maybe some slides (which required a slide projector). I learned well this way- and it took me a long time to understand that learning that way is no longer really operational- we have new technologies in play. There is even concern that the use of google may impact our memory and our learning, since so much information is now available for searching we need not remember it since it is always there. Google is now our brain. None of this is possible without Steve Jobs.

I will miss how visionary he was, how he transformed the world. I don’t know what Apple will do without him, but certainly the world is now a poorer place with him gone.

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