Apple Announcement: How Steve Jobs Made Geek Culture Cool

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs of Apple is making yet another big announcement today.

There are two cultural events that will persuade geeks to play “Wookie Hookie” — to call in sick at school or work: a new installment of “Star Wars” and a Steve Jobs keynote.

All over the world, from London to China, Apple fans are preparing to feign illness in order to tune into Jobs’ Apple announcement today, which is being live streamed over the internet for the first time in many years.

When Jobs takes the stage in his trademark turtleneck, jeans and sneakers, he promises a thrilling show of Apple’s latest sales statistics followed by some new products. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, “Frothy anticipation about Apple’s event Wednesday has centered on music and expected updates to iTunes and the iPod lineup. But television also is likely to be on the menu.”

“Awesome,” says one commentator on the MacRumors forums. “I can watch this instead of paying attention on the first day of high school.”

It’s astonishing that Jobs has managed to turn the most boring event in the catalog of boring events — a corporate press conference — into a global cultural phenomenon to rival rock star concerts or big sports events. Indeed, Jobs’ iPod/AppleTV event will attract far more attention than this year’s Coachella.

All across the net, websites are buzzing with news of the surprise broadcast, and instructions of how tune in and ensure a good, glitch-free stream. For several weeks, blogs and websites have been reporting every rumor and snippet of information about what he might have up his sleeve.

Significantly, these rumors are reported by big, mainstream news organizations. A couple of years ago, major news organizations would never deign to report Apple rumors. Today, whatever he reveals will be splashed across TV news broadcasts, newspapers and websites.

Jobs has always been a tech cult hero. Apple fans would line up overnight to snag seats at his Macworld speeches. They would fill the hall with wild whoops and cheers. Some had laptops open, ready to immediately order whatever product he unveiled.

But these days, we’re all geeks. Everyone’s got an iPod, an iPhone or an iPad, and it seems the whole world eagerly awaits to see what Jobs will do next.

There are few figures in business — or culture for that matter — who have had an impact as big as Jobs. Not only did he help invent the PC industry in the late 70s (and then reinvent it in the 80s with the Mac), he’s helped define computer animation, digital music, and now the smartphone business and mobile computing. Jobs’ products aren’t just industry leading, they’re cultural artifacts. The iPod is as emblematic to the times as were 78s, jukeboxes or the Walkman.

No wonder there’s such interest in his next move — it could be big.

Geek culture is a new counterculture — a world full of amazing products and films, music and games for people who are proud to be nerdy and square.

Chief among their heroes is Jobs, a figure from 60s counterculture who has single-handedly made computing cool. Jobs has made the products cooler than the media they play.

The iPad is infinitely cooler than the new album by Arcade Fire. In the sixties, it was the Stones. These days, it’s Jobs’ “One last thing.”


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