I really didn’t know a lot about Steve Jobs before his death on Oct 5, 2011, but I am learning.The information world is brimming with quotes, anecdotes, photos, and videos about him since he passed away. Fittingly, you can take your pick of any of the digitally archived info to find out about his creative genius, his trail blazing innovations in sales, and his wonderful contributions to the cyber world. At the end this post, I have included a link to my favorite Steve Jobs moment; it is a video of a commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005 in which Jobs talks about “How to Live Before You Die.” It’s a pretty interesting speech, but the best part, in my opinion, comes at the beginning as Jobs talks about taking a calligraphy course at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He took this class after he dropped out of Reed, and dropped-in to courses of his choice at the same college. I like the video because it contains an illustration from Jobs’s life that seems to be a contradiciton, that is, even the most forward thinking people can integrate skills of the past, including ancient arts and language, as they move into to the science driven future.
My favorite quotes from the video clip go something like this: “Calligraphy was beautiful; historically and artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture.” and “None of it (calligraphy) had a hope of practical application at the time.”
So what’s my point? If Steve Jobs, innovator, futurist and digital dynamo, can participate in a class about an ancient art form simply for the beauty of it, even when “None of it (calligraphy) had a hope of practical application at the time,” shouldn’t we consider doing likewise? What might we be dismissing today as useless that may end up being a building block of the future?
Thanks, Steve Jobs, for sharing that story. I, for one, consider it a lesson worth learning.