Newspapers and gadget magazines are overflowing with praise and remembrance, and there is no doubt that one of the big IT company leaders and visionaries has died. In many places he is praised as an aesthete that made computers and gadgets with stunning design and great wow-factor.
This is of course true, but in DARC we should remember him for how he made new IT-formats or genres popular like the PC with graphical user interface (which Apple didn’t invent but popularized), the iPod and the iPhone. Also it is significant that especially the success of the iPhone is built on culture and cultural consumption, both in the way that it integrates the musical culture of the iPod and iTunes and in the way it extend it to software culture, which it has transformed into a mobile app-culture. The iPhone and other IOS devices are cultural interfaces and cultural computing – and this is what made it different from the more engineering driven visions of e.g. Nokia or the business driven visions of RIM/Blackberry. Apple is not only wow-factor and sleek design – it is built on digital culture!
When this is said we should not forget also to ask critical questions about the proprietary business models of Apple, the closed infrastructure of AppStore, the many ways Apple (and others such as Google and Amazon) survey and track our consumption in still new ways. We should not forget to ask if this is the right way to go for a free culture and for cultural innovation. Hopefully this monopolistic and corporate way of dominating and enclosing culture will be challenged by strong alternatives from digital culture in the future. However, Jobs helped to build a stage and a format for digital culture.