Steve Jobs as Punctuation

Oct 06

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We can communicate without punctuation. After all the meaning of a sentence is found in the words, not the punctuation. But imbedded in language, punctuation elegantly adds structure to language, simultaneously simplifying and enhancing meaning.

Steve Jobs via Apple has done the same thing, punctuating our lives with technology. Outside of face to face encounters, the majority of my communication with family, friends, colleagues, students and strangers takes place via a product Steve Jobs invented. Sure, there are other products I could use, instead of an iPhone, an Android; instead of a MacBook, a Dell. But early on, I loved not only Apple products, but the idea of Apple. That idea of beauty, simplicity, innovation, and personal technology was embodied by Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs and love of all things Apple is such an intricate part of our family’s DNA we decided it would be too upsetting to tell the the mini-Blairs about Jobs’ death last night, right before bed. MCB just got her first iPod, an orange Shuffle. (She affectionately refers to it as “The Starter Pod.”) She and her brother attended Apple camp this summer where they created an original short film via iMovie and Garage Band. An iMac, iPad, Airport Extreme, Apple TV, iPod Nano, iPod Touch, iPhoto, iTunes and iPhones have by turns punctuated our life. For a geeky tribe like the Blairs, Apple and Steve Jobs have been our St. Louis Cardinals. We don’t watch sports together as a family. Instead, video streams of Steve Jobs’ Worldwide Developer’s Conference and MacWorld Expo appearances have been family affairs since the mini-Blairs were preschoolers, complete with popcorn and mini-Blair commentary.

Beyond the obvious loss of a visionary, it is striking to me that the loss of Steve Jobs feels so personal. Like punctuation in a sentence, the products Jobs created don’t provide meaning, but imbedded in our lives they do facilitate how we express meaning, making our connection to the technology, and by extension him, feel deeply personal.

The flood of praise for Jobs is already overwhelming. Beyond Apple’s simple but moving eulogy, numerous websites have dedicated their home pages to Jobs, from Wired’s elegant collection of quotes to Google’s home page link. President Obama released a statement acknowledging Jobs’ significance, and I am sure this is only the beginning. To this crescendo of analysis and praise, I add my simple but heartfelt tribute.

Thank you Steve, for punctuating my life with your dreams.


  1. Matt Stimmel /

    Punctuation can totally save lives, though.

    A: Let’s eat grandma!

    B: Let’s eat, grandma!

  2. Nice post. Glad to know I am not the only one that treats Apple keynotes like major sporting events! Jobs had the rare combination of artistic sensibility, vision, and charisma to envision, refine, and market products that inspired people to be creative, all while keeping the UI simple, beautiful, and above all intuitively functional.

    • Yes, I’d choose a keynote over football any day! Thanks for the kind words…love the elements you chose to describe Jobs’ many facets.

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