June 11, 2012
‘Outlier’ Writer Gladwell Dismisses Jobs
Famous and prolific writer Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers, The Tipping Point) took some time late last month to sit down at the Toronto Public Library Appel Salon for a bit of a public appearance. While there, he decided to express his opinions about the late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.
Perhaps Gladwell knew what he was doing when he said Bill Gates – often seen as Jobs’ bitter rival – would be remembered in 50 years whereas Jobs would be forgotten. Perhaps Gladwell expected to drum up a little popularity in an attempt to book a few more public speaking gigs, appearances which, according to the New Yorker (Gladwell’s employer) earns him “tens of thousands of dollars.”
After all, even Mike Daisey had no trouble milking money from his monologue even after he had been publicly revealed to be a liar. Perhaps there’s big money to be made in dismissing a dead man’s reputation.
According to Gladwell, Gates has more of a chance to be remembered in 50 years thanks to his charitable work. He painted Jobs, on the other hand, to be more of a selfish, money-hoarding corporate tycoon who endlessly promoted himself and took credit for others’ work.
“Of the great entrepreneurs of this era, people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. ‘Who was Steve Jobs again?’ But – there will be statues of Bill Gates across the Third World,” Gladwell said on stage at the Toronto Public Library.
“There’s a reasonable shot that – because of his money – we will cure malaria.”
Gladwell went on to say the work of these two revolutionaries of the personal computing movement will long be forgotten in 50 years. Only Gates will be remembered, according to the Canadian writer.
“I firmly believe that 50 years from now he will be remembered for his charitable work. No one will even remember what Microsoft is.”
Gladwell’s remarks began to get attention late last week when the public library posted the video online. If his books are any indication, Gladwell should know from smart and successful people. His latest book, “Outliers,” discusses what separates successful people from average people.
“We need to be clear when we venerate entrepreneurs what we are venerating,” Gladwell said. “They are not moral leaders. If they were moral leaders, they wouldn’t be great businessmen.”
Other than mentioning Jobs’ lack of charitable giving, Gladwell did not mention why he thinks the world will forget every contribution Jobs did give to the world: His universe-denting products.
Rather, he decided to chide the late Jobs for his attitude and personality, an easy shot to take against a man who can’t defend himself.
“Every single idea he ever had came from somebody else. And he would be the first to say this. He would also take credit for things. He was shameless. He was an extraordinarily brilliant businessman and entrepreneur. He was also a self-promoter on a level that we have rarely seen.”
Malcolm Gladwell is obviously a very smart person. He thinks about everyday things in ways not many others do and is able to write about them in meaningful, thoughtful ways.
It’s rather odd, then, that Gladwell thinks every technological advancement made in the past 30 years will be forgotten by 2062. After all, if our children and grandchildren will have to ask “What’s Microsoft?”, and “Who’s Steve Jobs?”, then he must expect something very tragic and apocalyptic to happen sometime in the near future.
But, he’s a smart guy. Maybe he’ll be able to write something amazing to warn us about our impending doom. It only seems fitting, of course, that he’ll probably write this warning on a Mac.
Image Credit: Apple