Review of the Steve Jobs biography

Steve Jobs“This bio is sh–!”

That’s all I could imagine Steve Jobs saying if he had read the biography he commissioned Walter Isaacson to write. Since I’m not Steve Jobs, I’d say it was an amazing read, though it could’ve benefited from a bit more editing.

While growing up I remember using Apple products in school, from the Apple II in Grade one, to the Macintosh throughout the rest of elementary school, and once again when I went to college. What I wasn’t really familiar with was the man behind those machines. Sure, I’d helped poke fun of Steve Jobs and Apple, and when I turned 180 degrees on that, I watched every product unveiling from the iPhone onward, but I never looked into the type of man he was, so this biography was quite the read.

Steve Jobs paints a picture of a man who is a quagmire. He was a narcissistic perfectionist who could bend people to his will and still garner deep respect and admiration. He was extremely emotional, often crying in public when happy or hurt, but callous when criticizing others for their work. There are countless stories of Jobs verbally abusing employees when they couldn’t come up with a design that he envisioned. He would catch them in his “reality distortion field” and get them to complete projects in unthinkable ways.

To further add to the quagmire that is Jobs, his personal life is equally odd. He speaks extensively about his personal life, with stories of him experimenting with LSD, strange dieting, traveling to India for months to seek enlightenment, and not stepping up to the plate to father his first child Lisa, among other things. We see a man who is a product of his generation, a bit of a hippie searching for inner peace, but also someone so cold as to not recognize his own daughter as his. The closest we get to an explanation of the reasoning behind why Jobs was the way he was, is through Isaacson’s interviews with others saying that he was trying to cope with abandonment issues at birth. It’s strange because Jobs was raised by loving parents who did nothing but make efforts to see him succeed. For all I know he did, but I’d like to have seen Isaacson press Jobs more about his feelings toward his birth parents.

For someone who is lauded as one of the great technology minds, Jobs was never really an expert at anything. He had this innate sense of how things should be, and worked off the genius of people like Steve Wozniak, designers at Xerox and Apple designer Jony Ive (and many others) to make the great products that Apple is so known for today. Each one of those that worked with him says that yes they did the work, but that wouldn’t have been possible without Jobs pushing them to do the unimaginable.

Throughout the book I couldn’t help but think that I was happy Jobs was never interested in running for public office. Imagine him as President of the United States? I’m pretty sure he’d rival, if not be worse than some other notorious world leaders of the past. Luckily he was focused on changing the world through computers, not politics.

As I mentioned at the top, the book could have been given an extra round of editing. There is a lot of repetition, especially in the latter half that became distracting at times. If it wasn’t for that, I would have given it a perfect score, but instead I give Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson a 4.5/5.

Facebook unveils new pages

FacebookFacebook gave everyone a sneak peak at the new fan page design about two months ago, then went down for a period of time, causing some to panic. Yesterday, Facebook officially unveiled the new changes, which are here to stay and I have to say, so far I’m pretty happy with them. Here are my early thoughts:

1. Separation of profile and self: Of all the changes, the one I like most is the ability to switch between my personal profile, and the pages I manage. Just because I manage a Facebook page, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to answer questions or comment on it as myself, especially for energi PR’s Facebook page, where I want to comment on posts, photos or videos from time to time. Now I can.

2. Photos become more important: With the redesign, photos now appear at the top of the page, similar to the personal profiles. This means your page’s photos will be the first thing people see when they visit a brand’s wall, so it may be a good time to start snapping to keep it fresh.

3. Showcase your page admins: With the option to showcase page admins on the page, brands can add some transparency, where it did not exist before. However, the only concern I have is that Facebook is a different beast from Twitter, where privacy is concerned. Personally, I’m not 100 per cent comfortable with people viewing my profile, but others may be.

4. Peer pressure: When I see a friend of mine has “liked” a page, I’m inclined to check out that page myself, and I may “like” it as a result. This has always existed, but now it also includes the pages you have both favourited. It is also a bit higher up and taking advantage of that valuable real estate on the right column of the page.

5. Notifications: With the new setup mirroring a personal page, there is also the option of emailing notifications to the admins when someone comments, joins, etc. My issue with this is there doesn’t appear to be a way to add an email account other than the one you signed your personal account up with. I would much prefer page notifications to go to my work email, and not my Hotmail.

What is your initial reaction to the page changes? What do you hope to see in the planned changes over the next few months?

Twitter clients for business: Why so few?

With more businesses taking advantage of engaging with their audiences via Twitter, I’m shocked at the lack of free clients out there. Of course small businesses or companies with one person manning the social media helm can manage just fine with clients like Tweetdeck or Seesmic, but what about those businesses that have teams of people answering customer questions and concerns online?

What works best for teams in that situation has been CoTweet. The ability to easily assign tweets to others to respond to makes life so much easier. You can also check past conversations to see if the person has tweeted the account previously and who dealt with them. Where CoTweet was lagging was the ability to monitor conversations, which is why it’s best to use it with a client like Tweetdeck.

Game changer?

Thursday morning I saw an email from Hootsuite‘s Ryan Holmes, announcing “teams can now coordinate tasks with increased efficiency and reduced hassle with the ability to assign messages to team members and share columns within teams.”

I immediately thought, ‘finally!’ Now teams can assign messages which at first glance looks like it’ll be a game changer for businesses using Twitter. Coupled with a Tweetdeck-like interface, plus the great functions of CoTweet, Hootsuite allows companies to do their job from the web, and with one client.

Competition coming?

There are so many mobile Twitter clients and they seem to pop up quite regularly, but I wonder where’s the competition for the business users out there? Is there not enough demand? Until then, Hootsuite will probably see a rise in users as those with CoTweet migrate over to see if it works for them and I predict many will stay.

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