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Monthly Archives: August 2011


This week we saw an earthquake hit New York, a hurricane shutting down the city’s massive subway system, Google forfeiting $500 Million generated by online ads for Canadian pharmacies and the aftermath of HP’s decision to flat out get out of the PC business, but the biggest news of the week was the resignation of Steven P. Jobs as CEO of Apple.

Though it did not come as a surprise, what with the medical leave and the move of the publication of his biography from next year to this November, it did shock. We knew it was coming, and yet it startled us.

Many stories have been published in response to his resignation, and about the future of Apple, including many profiles of Tim Cook who was immediately named CEO in perfect succession.

[ Shame on all those who have only focused on the sexuality of the man whose operational genius allowed Apple to produce the Macs, iMacs, Macbooks, Airs, iPods, iPhones and iPads the way they wanted while simultaneously maintaining an envied inventory chain worldwide, leading Apple to profits so large they recently had more money in the bank than the US government and surpassed Exxon Mobile (for a brief period of time) as the world's most valuable company. So if you want to talk about who the man sleeps with go ahead, you are an idiot. ]

Jobs reinvented many industries and forced all of us to reconsider what we thought was the norm. There is a reason we always hear the question “how would Apple do it?”

I was tempted to include lists to my favorite articles concerning the resignation, a quick search would yield many of those. Instead I’ll share this: I wrote my university application essays on a Mac. All my college papers, dissertations, assignments, all done on Macs. I made a website to sell the arts, in 1993, on a Mac. All the career-elevating work I’ve ever done in my life, happened on a Mac (and now on an iPhone and an iPad as well). All the work we are doing here for our clients, happens mostly on Macs (and every time we have to test a website on a PC I am reminded why). Many call such loyalty fanboy-ism, and yes, there is a touch of that, but the truth is simpler. At every step of our lives when we wanted to challenge ourselves, when we had to challenge ourselves creatively, when we’ve pursued something so large we weren’t sure how we could do it, or whether we could do it at all, an Apple product helped us forge ahead. It really is that simple.

Oh alright, one link, the commencement speech is really a must see.

And in the spirit of all those amazing keynotes that I will surely miss:

One More Thing.

Pixar.

Because of Pixar we know that Apple will have a bright future without Steve Jobs as CEO. Jobs has been an integral part of the growth of Pixar and yet we seldom think of him when talking about the unprecedented string of multi-billion-dollar-earning movies created by the studio. Because Jobs’ biggest contribution at Pixar is the company’s team and culture, the way they work and create, in essence the company itself. Likewise, Jobs’ greatest accomplishment at Apple is not any of the many products they’ve created but a team, a work ethic, a company capable of producing them.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

“A definition is the enclosing of a wilderness of ideas within a wall of words.” Samuel Butler

In last weekend’s The New York Times the paper featured an Opinion article by Neal Gabler titled The Elusive Big Idea. In the article Gabler explores the very definition of ideas and thinking. What is an idea? What are they for? And, do we care?

If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we are dumber than our forebears but because we just don’t care as much about ideas as they did. In effect, we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.

It is not so much that bold ideas are passé as it is that bold ideas tend to be very costly.

Patent lawsuits are rampant at the moment, everyone suing everyone else, from Lodsys suing independent developers (and Apple trying to defend them), to Google, Apple, Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, and others all suing each other in various incestuous permutations fighting to put up the the walls that will determine what “mobile” means.

And it’s not just technology. Lawyers, with their walls of words, are doing a great job to make anyone pursuing creative thought feel like the simple act of thinking is always pending litigation.

Ultimately there are two kinds of ideas: those that live in the ether of concepts and angels and dreams and those that are made known through action.

The boldest idea is the one that is actually implemented. Anyone can have a thought, anyone can try to define it, contain it, claim it, sue for it, but few, those that dare develop it, build it, are the true thinkers.

Bold ideas may be passé, but bold, differentiating action is not, and never will be.

Most importantly, if you can make something happen from an idea once, you can do it again.

With apologies to Benjamin Franklin, well done is better than well sued.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

A recent study determined the most influential person on Twitter is a Brazilian comic you’ve never heard of.

• The interactive trailer for BBC Earth’s film One Life is fantastic.

2011 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Main Title Design. – The best in storytelling motion graphics.

Adobe previews Edge, an HTML5 tool.

The Expressive Web is the companion showcase site to Adobe’s Edge.

• Getting Bin Laden – What happened that night in Abbottabad. by Nicholas Schmidle for The New Yorker. –  “The teams had barely been on target for a minute, and the mission was already veering off course.”

• Facebook Buys E-book Maker Push Pop Press, Plans to Integrate its Tech.

This American Life, When Patents Attack“Why would a company rent an office in a tiny town in East Texas, put a nameplate on the door, and leave it completely empty for a year? The answer involves a controversial billionaire physicist in Seattle, a 40 pound cookbook, and a war waging right now, all across the software and tech industries.”