“With the passing of Steve Jobs yesterday, the web is filled with remembrances of a pioneer and industry legend. It’s a sad day indeed. But it’s also a good day to look back and consider the history of innovation. And how all the inventions and creations of the last 100 years have affected us. As a specific topic to write about: How would you compare the importance of electricity with the invention of the internet? or the cell phone? Can this kind of comparison be made? If you had to lose one of these inventions, which would you keep? And why?”
Comparing two events on separate ends of a progressive continuum is a difficult task, if not impossible, for the latter rests on the dawn of the former. Steve Jobs was a genius, and he revolutionized how the world communicates. As incredible as he and his innovations were and are, he could not have accomplished any of it without the work of Alexander Graham Bell, who could not have developed the telephone if it wasn’t for Thomas Watson and men like Michael Faraday, Allesandro Volta, and James Clark Maxwell, who all relied on the findings of Benjamin Franklin and those who harnessed electricity. Those notable men stood on the insights of Otto von Guericke, C.F. Du Fay, Stephen Gray, William Gillbert and Sir Thomas Brown, who were able to build their hypotheses because of the findings of Greeks and Egyptians.
I will not give up electricity until another more sustainable energy is available. Cell phones, iPads, laptops and computers are nice to have (considering I or someone in family owns one or all of them), but they are not a necessity. I can feel the discontented ready to point out the contradiction, if not the hypocrisy, of such a statement. What I mean is I would miss being able to contact whomever I want whenever I want in an instant via text, email, facebook, IM, etc, but I can live without it because none of it is necessary.
I miss getting letters in the mail from friends who live far away. I miss coming home and pressing the button on the answering machine to hear my mother’s voice say “Sarah, it’s your mom,” as if I didn’t know her voice. Trips to see friends and family can be postponed because we can Skype or facetime, and although those innovations are incredible and useful in bringing people closer together, I think we have become more distant in a way. Sure, my friends and family can visit me on Facebook or read my blog; however, unless they leave a message, comment on a post, or “like” something, I don’t know they were there.
None of Steve Jobs’ creations can take the place of real relationships. Sure the innovations enhance relationships, but the opposite can occur. The world rotated before the internet and cell phones and even electricity, and it will continue to even if we lost it all.