Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Steve Jobs Interview for The Smithsonian

By Joseph Kellard
Did you know Steve Jobs thought our government-run public schools were terrible union-driven bureaucracies, not meritocracies (to use his words)? It’s one of the best slices of this interview he did for an Smithsonian Oral History project that was conduced by the Computerworld Information Technology Awards Program in 1995.

Jobs offers his thoughts on a host of issues —from the artistry he believed was integ...ral to making computers, how Apple was coasting and steadily declining while he was out of the company, to hiring A-class producers and firing lesser employees, to Pixar and digitally animated films such as Toy Story, to so-called “social responsibilities.”

In answer to a question about the latter (near the end of the interview), Job’s took issue with the faith that he had any such responsibilities. Instead, he said, “We’re all going to be dead soon. That’s my point of view. Someone once told me: ‘Live each day as if it will be your last, and one day you’ll certainly be right.’ And I do that … I think you have a responsibility to do really good stuff and get it out there for people to use and let them build on the shoulders of it and keep making better stuff.”

In hindsight, after experiencing all the great products that Jobs came to produced in the computer, film, communications and music industries, it’s safe to say he lived by his words that put his love of his work above all else.

While you can, as I did, take issue with some of his views, particularly on monopolies, the government’s roll to protect the Internet as a “public trust,” and Silicon Valley’s innovations as primarily the product of the so-called 1960’s counterculture, there’s a lot to enjoy in this interview. Most of all, he comes across as a thoughtful, articulate, impassioned innovator.

Photo by Joseph Kellard

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Photos: Rockefeller Center at Christmas

“The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying . . . stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by department stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only ‘commercial greed’ could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.” ~ Ayn Rand

Photos by Joseph Kellard

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why I'm an Early Bird

By Joseph Kellard
People ask me how I do it. I get out of bed to start my day at 5 a.m. I've been doing this for many years, and the root of my answer lies in the Olympics.

Yes, my biorhythms are also to blame. Since my youth I've been a deep sleeper, and that certainly plays into why I’m an early riser. When I was younger I used to need, at most, about eight hours of sleep a night, and most of my adult life I've been able to get by on six hours, and sometimes less.

I set my alarm at 4:20 a.m., and occasionally I wake up before the alarm sounds. I have it set to sports talk radio, and I often hit snooze intermittently throughout. Otherwise, I'll either catch more z's or run what I call “word salads” — word association-like, stream-of-consciousness-type sentences — thorough my head, with the sole purpose of seeing what words and phrases I can summon from my vocabulary bank. Once I toss the covers off me, though, I routinely head to my work desk to write or read on my MacBook, after which I drive to the gym, three to four days a week.

I started my early morning activities back during my early 20-something years, when I worked out with weights in my garage in the dark of morning. I was drawn to do this because it made me feel productive while most of America was still sleeping.

My inspiration came years earlier, when I was a kid watching the Olympics on television, specifically the features on athletes — the cross-country skiers, skaters or gymnasts who awoke before dawn to trek to the hills, ice rink or gym to train before heading to school or work. I found this incredibly inspiring.

I knew some night owls, with friends and relatives among them. They were the kind who never appeared to get sleepy while most of us watched late-night television with our eyes half shut from our couches. But they typically slept late the next morning, and that’s why being a night owl never appealed to me. Getting up earl always seemed to me like an accomplishment, something that required a certain effort, whereas staying up late just didn’t.

When I used to live with others, including night owls who watched TV late, getting up early in the morning was always the only opportunity to take advantage of some quiet in the house, which was a tremendous value when I needed to think, write or read. Today I live alone in a studio apartment in a home that almost seems hermetically sealed to sound. It’s too good to be true.

I continue covet the serenity of early morning, especially its contrast to the hustle and bustle of where I live in the suburbs of New York City, the city that never sleeps. And I make sure to wake up early each morning to capture it.