Computers, Poetry, and Meteorology?
I recently finished the book Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky who is a senior editor for Fortune covering all things Silicon Valley. The book was interesting and a fast read—it read much like a long magazine article—and it’s a nice companion to the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.
Near the beginning of the book Lashinsky describes the kinds of people Steve Jobs hired during the early days at Apple. In particular, Jobs was looking for people who “had an insight into what one sees around them,” what Lashinsky and presumably Jobs called an “artistic gift.” The artistry found in computer design also manifested itself in other ways which Jobs described in a 1995 interview for the Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Program. The following is a quote from that Awards Program which Lashinsky uses in the book.
The goal Jobs said was…
“…[to put] things together in a way no one else has before and [to find] a way to express that to other people who don’t have that insight so they can get some advantage of that insight, [and, thus, make] them feel a certain way or [allow] them to do a certain thing. If you study these people [the ones Jobs was hiring]…you’ll find…in this particular time, in the 70s and the 80s, the best people in computers would have normally been poets and writers and musicians. Almost all of them were musicians. A lot of them were poets on the side. They went into computers because it was so compelling. It was fresh and new. It was a new medium of expression for their creative talents. The feelings and the passion that people put into it were completely indistinguishable from a poet or a painter.” 1
Interesting. And, my anecdotal evidence from many years working with innovative, creative software teams is that Jobs’ observation is still true today. Some of the most inspired programmers and designers whom I have had the pleasure to work with often had avocational interests in the arts, particularly music. I’d like to think my own preoccupation with poetry follows similarly—it’s a perfect outlet for a creative temperament. Now, how meteorology fits into all this is still the unanswered question. 🙂
1Adam Lashinsky, Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired—and Secretive—Company Really Works (New York: Business Plus, Hachette Book Group, 2012), p. 52.