Home > Art, Life, Really? > Steve Jobs Was My Spiderman

Steve Jobs Was My Spiderman

“To design something really well you have to get it. You have to really grok [to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity] what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to thoroughly understand something – chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that. Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask a creative person how they did something, they may feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people have.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.”

-Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, 1955-2011

Yup, I could have written all this myself because it says what I’ve been trying to articulate since I was young.

I got in trouble a lot for daydreaming in school. It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening; I was simply connecting what I was hearing to something other than what the teacher might have intended. The information was a spider and the activity in my head was the web being spun, shooting itself off in all directions while remaining attached to a solid center.

The way we’ve been trying to educate kids today through standardized testing seems to assume only a solid center floating in empty space, as though making it more dense will somehow make it stronger. But if you’ve ever walked down the street early in the morning and been caught right across the eyes by a single strand of spider silk, you know that can’t possibly be true. A spider knows that to walk the distance a microfilament of webbing can travel in an instant would take forever, so why do it?

If Steve Jobs did anything for humanity, it was to teach us to think like the spider and imagine a whole new universe all in the midst of an intricate, spectacular, ever-expanding web.

Categories: Art, Life, Really?
  1. Mickey Grooters
    October 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Nice. A college text book I taught from once — one of those 60’s “out there” texts – way before your time — had these words “CONNECT ONLY CONNECT” — and then it had lots of drawings — I think I might still have it — but your image of the spider in the web — and connecting it – and your very gentle critique of education today and standardized testing – is such a good “connection.” I think there are some learning theories out there that say that certain subjects are learned best through repetition – like math– other subjects are learned best when we can “elaborate” on them – connect them together, or to us in some way – courses like history, and philosophy. Old people with short term memory problems are sometimes helped through leading them through a series of connections–so where my keys are – is liked to the stairs, passing the white table, moving into the bedroom– etc. You make connections well.

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