The Myth of Steve Jobs and the Shadow People

Steve Jobs’ loss to the visionaries cannot be underestimated.  He had the power to implement what others dream.  The shadow people are all those who could enjoy and utilize the Apple implementations for visions IBMers could only THINK, when talking bucks to a Pentagon contract officer.

Take desktop publishing.  The San Francisco South of Market crowd, including ad agencies, graphic arts studios, printers, typesetters and trendsetters with their new Linotroniz WYSIWYG machines jumped on the Mac.  From cheesy newsprint art to slick magazine spreads, the march was viral.  Shadow giants like the Woz and Bill Atkinson, a genius who developed draw programs, invented the sprite, and now claims bragging rights to overlapping windows, a feature even Microsoft didn’t have in Windows 3.0.  Digital color pioneer, Bruce Fraser (RIP 2007) mapped color in 32-bit pixels, magician, Alvy Ray Smith, spun those colors into three dimensional space, and animator, John Lasseter, gave those pixels life.   Steve Jobs was definitely not alone.

Will the spirit of Steve Jobs survive?  Will the spaceship campus in Cupertino be built?  Or will the face of the company change, betraying all who gave so enthusiastically to Apple’s success.

Jobs was the symbolic key to the Apple v. Samsung matrix.  Now it’s just a giant corporate fight, everyone else be damned.

Ultimately, everyone is alone.  All those alliances made, dissolve during the exigencies of commerce and the battles over claimed technology.   The attitude is “So what?  So sue me!”  The Apple of “I know you, Apple, your a cool hacker from the outside” is gone.  It is now a money machine operated by suits on a mission.  The alliance with AT&T in the exclusive release of the iPhone was the first sense of betrayal.

But what of Google?  Was this the ultimate act of betrayal?  Give it away, give it away, give it away free!  Is this a way to compete without putting hardware in the street?

The opposition, Google, is off to a fast start, but forgot the devil in the details.  The big dog on the street is now Larry Ellison.  His control of Oracle and its recently acquired property, Java, with its “virtual machine,” is cause to pause.  Java, protected by both patent and copyright, has been a cross-platform asset that was almost, but not quite, open source.  Oracle is hard on the heels of Google.  Maybe Google should have licensed Java on the cheap when it hat the chance.

It is time for a new “virtual machine.” Perhaps one based on the Berkeley Software Distribution model (BSD) with a kicker to Berkeley and the California educational system.  After all, billions and billions are being made on the Berkeley Unix basics, and Berkeley is not getting a dime.  What is a reasonable royalty?  University education in California should be free to the top 50%.  Let those who can pay, pay.  But the best and the brightest should be cultivated so Cal can pump as much techno money into the system as Stanford.  What’s a measly one percent to Cisco, Oracle, Google, Apple, H.P., I.B.M. and all others who have accumulated great wealth on the back of Berkeley?

Who wants to be an inventor, or for that matter, a patent attorney representing an inventor?  In today’s game, that is risky business.  The seven most dreaded words that an inventor or the patent lawyer can hear is, “XXX specifically intended to deceive the Patent Office.”  This is the “atom bomb” of patent litigation.  It not only can blow out the patent in suit, but can destroy all patents in the portfolio family, and even related patents owned by the “deceiver.”  So, when is it used?  Surprisingly, in 80% of the cases and is even recklessly bandied about by the very best, top draw firms.  Why is it used?  Because, typically, might is right, and it is a great trial strategy to deflect attention from the real issues like validity and infringement.  Or, there may be ulterior motives.  It is enough to give one an ice cream headache.

Speaking of which, “ice cream sandwich,” the name of Google’s latest GUI iteration is probably selected for strategic reasons.  After cowering for a time under Apple’s multi-prong onslaught, a campaign not seen since the user-interface war of Apple v Microsoft, Samsung pulls a Google rabbit out of the hat with Ice Cream Sandwich.  An ice cream sandwich is about the size of a smart phone.  The visual landscape is limited.  That in and of itself dictates a new way of looking at the world.

First, it is a “no brainer” that the tablet and the smart phone are going to be sold in a box set.  The Palm Pre Plus smart phone, a pony I rode,  has a user guide that is 208 doubled-up pages long.  That’s 416 pages.  I still can’t really work it.  A tablet or pad sold as a package with the smaller smart phone will show the user of the “smart” phone, how to work the phone.  The phone in turn will give the tablet the internet credentials to spend with abandon, unless we start considering the tablet to be one big phone.

But where do we go from here?

Gaming and Identity Management.  If you thought credit cards are a spendthrift nightmare, wait until pay by phone takes hold.  Ultimately, to prove it was really you who made that charge, a biometric assurance will be necessary to avoid chaos.  How that is accomplished is complex, since even your fingerprint can be copied with some success.  Like a hedge fund, various levels of security can be guaranteed.  But what then?

Gaming is always way ahead of the rest of the computer world.  Whether for fun or for money, a certain level of integrity needs to be maintained.  Like the zero or zero and double zero on the roulette wheel, the vig or house take is marked for all to see.  Better to be at a table playing only a single zero.  A transparent take is OK, but rigging the wheel is grounds for mayhem.

How the gaming network develops, so too will the rest of the world follow.  We are at the crossroads of a new paradigm that needs to be explored and not merely exploited.  And it is not just Steve Jobs.  There are lot of shadow people out there making things happen…


About sfreptile

SFreptile is a relatively transparent pseudonym for an overly educated and cynical inventor.
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