The Representative Agent in the Technological World

I live in a world of economics where we tend to doubt the power of the individual. To be sure, there are individuals who are in positions of power and who can inflict damage on the world. But in the world of business, these tend to wash out. Leaders may come and go but very little of substantive economic value changes.

Steve Jobs was and had become, in so many ways, the exception that proves the rule. Take him out of the world and one can imagine what we might be without. From the personal computer to the iPhone to a revolution in animated movies, one gets a sense that these parts of our lives — both technologically and culturally — would not be with us.

But if I’m being honest rather than emotional (which is terribly hard as I write this), we would have had most of these innovations (eventually). However, alongside it we would have had considerably more frustration. Steve Jobs made our lives easier by sheer willpower. This is as true for myself as a loyal Apple customer as it is for everyone else. PCs were made better as were Android phones all because Jobs insisted that the consumer came first.

I recall this passion from a video of Jobs talking to a MacWorld audience just before he returned as Apple CEO. Right then he told his audience of developers that they shouldn’t have to struggle to write programs for the Mac. It should be easier. And that if he had his way, his phone would be able to do email properly. You can see Jobs as the very frustrated consumer that he set his life’s work to save both himself and the rest of us from. He was our representative agent in the technological world. And what a fine example he turned out to be. There is no one there to fill that void. The rest of us are mere atoms.

One Reply to “The Representative Agent in the Technological World”

  1. I agree completely, but just wanted to correct the reference: The video you’ve linked to his fabulous (and full of passion). But it’s actually from the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference from 1997 and it’s after Steve came back (in the NeXt acquisition) and was named interim CEO.

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