My Thoughts on Steve Jobs and a Couple of his Best Quotes

Instagram users react to the passing of Steve Jobs.
Instagram users react to the passing of Steve Jobs.

After having a few days to digest, I feel prepared to write a short piece on the death of Steve Jobs. I learned of his passing via a push notification from the AP news app on my iPhone. At first, I thought it was a tasteless joke. There had been a number of Twitter hacks before, including CBS mistakenly reporting the death of Steve Jobs on Sept. 9, 2011. There was actually not a story in my AP app about the passing of Steve Jobs, so I went to Twitter to see what was going on. Sure enough, several other news sites and trusted followers were tweeting the sad news.

It always seems strange to be upset about the death of someone I never knew, but Steve Jobs was truly a visionary who changed the world for the better. Always modest of his life accomplishments, Steve Jobs made products that were easy to use and visually appealing. He had a way of looking into the future to deliver technologies that would change how people communicate and function in the world. But as I said, he maintained his modesty and focused on the important things in life:

“The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t.

“I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all.” (Steve Jobs, Wired, 1996)

Silvia using her iPod touch.
Silvia using her mom's iPod Touch. The success of Steve Jobs is in the simplicity of Apple's products.

Whether or not Steve Jobs single-handily changed the world is up for debate. However, I don’t think too many people will argue Apple products are easy to use. Some may think of me as a bit of a tech geek, but if my aunt asks me to help her install a new app on her Android-based phone, I get lost in the process. Anything I do on my iPhone is easy. Apple’s products are so simple, my girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter can easily use her iPod Touch.

Probably the most profound technological developments of Apple came from the company’s ability to think of products in a new light and to keep things simple. While keeping something simple can often times be much more complicated, the simple designs of Apple products are clearly what sets them apart. Before I over-complicate this blog post, I will simply leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs:

“For something this complicated, it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” (Steve Jobs, BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998)

Apple products have had a major impact on my life and many others. May Steve Jobs rest in peace.

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iPhone App Review: Instagram

Great Wall of China taken this summer and edited with Instagram.
Great Wall of China taken this summer with a Nikon D90 and edited with Instagram.

Let’s call this my first iPhone app review. In my very first blog entry I promised to throw in some posts on photography. Living up to that promise, I want to talk about one of my favorite iPhone apps: Instagram. This is the perfect iPhone application for someone who’s into art and wants to share his/her world with others through photos.

Taken from the Instagram website, Instagram is “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.” The app definitely lives up to its motto and it is super easy to use. All you do is choose a photo (either by taking one using the app itself or by choosing from your iPhone’s camera roll), apply one of the filters, name the image and you’re done! The app even has the option to apply tilt-shift to make your pictures look miniature or more mysterious by blurring the edges. In short, Instagram is a great way to make otherwise boring or uninspiring photos come to life with simple filters. The photo in my Gravatar at right was manipulated using Instagram and I now use that same image across all my social media platforms (this might be a good time to attribute the photographer: Danielle Morris).

Photo of a bar in Rapid City, S.D. with tilt-shift applied.
Photo of a bar in Rapid City, S.D. with tilt-shift applied.

The Instagram iPhone app also is very much a social media application and even mimics some of the same features as Twitter. Users can create hashtags, use @mentions, add a location and follow other users. With photos of people you follow showing up in a photostream, Instagram is essentially Twitter, but with photos. Another fun aspect of this iPhone app is that you can send your creations out across a number of sites supporting photos. I typically add a location via Foursquare and send the photo to Facebook or Twitter (sometimes both). The photos you see in the sidebar at right are Instagram photos synced to my Flikr photostream.

The one drawback of Instagram is that the actual website is worthless from a user standpoint. Although every Instagram photo published on another site has its own URL, the site contains no way to share the image, comment or rate the photo nor does the site contain links to any other photos. Basically, the site does not support user profiles. This is a little frustrating and disappointing all at the same time. However, I’m sure the developers chose to keep the website simple and maybe they are still laking the infrastructure needed to host the nearly 300,000 photos uploaded each day. This means Instagram is limited only to iPhone users (as well as  iPad and iPod Touch users).

I found a donut shop that had bacon on their donuts!
I found a donut shop that had bacon on their donuts!

Many organizations are using Instagram already and it will be interesting to see what type of marketing campaigns will be launched using the app. I currently follow NPR, the Boston Celtics and MTV just to see what type of images they come up with and to see how they are using Instagram to connect with their audience. Although KVSC-FM does not have an Instagram account set up, I have used the app to create interesting photos to post on the station’s Facebook wall. Organizations with a larger following could easily conduct contests or use the app for awareness efforts of national or worldwide events. How do you see Instagram being used as a marketing tool?