The recent death of Steve Jobs reminds us that, while he didn’t have a direct impact on current social media, Jobs did help create the environment for social media to flourish. With products like iTunes and the rise of podcasts in the early 2000’s, Apple put an emphasis on sharing and creating original content before social media sites became popular. And with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple made mobile computing easy and encouraged users to share more of their lives through social media.
Apple—and the world of technology at large—finds itself at a crossroads. Will the loss of Apple’s leader impede their ability to offer more and better products? And, if there is a slowdown in innovation at Apple, will this have a similar affect in how people use social media?
The Medium is the Message
Apple has yet to create a social media platform of their own, but that’s because they don’t have to. Their hardware and other products were built to inspire creativity in the individual and to allow users to take control of their computer experience. Apple’s focus on their products has meant that their message—thinking differently—is carried to every Apple user.
For areas like education, this means that iPods, Macbooks and iPads used in the classroom can inspire new techniques and resources for teaching and learning. From podcasting to interactive iPad apps, Apple gives both teachers and students a chance to explore collaborative learning, online school programs, and interactive educational technology. Social media is becoming a larger influence in education right now—and Apple helped facilitate that new relationship.
The Next Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs influenced more than just Apple: with Pixar, he helped create a new genre of animation, and with the short-lived NeXT, Jobs and his company produced the first web servers. It’shard to imagine that there will be another innovator with talents as diverse as Jobs’.
Still, if something has to carry on Jobs’ legacy of innovation, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook come close: with more than 800 million users, Facebook is by far the world’s largest social media network. What Jobs did with hardware, Zuckerberg is doing with the Internet: giving millions of users a chance to connect to each other, to share activities and to exchange ideas. Facebook’s latest developments include the integration of apps that allow users to do everything from help each other with homework to find and share new recipes. By creating an open online environment that pushes people to share more, Facebook is changing the nature of the Internet. And with just five years online, the potential for Facebook is boundless.
The death of Steve Jobs has already had an impact on the tech world, but the innovation of other minds—both at the helm of companies and everyday end users—will continue to find new and original ways to advance technology. Jobs’ legacy is that he helped give each person with a computer the power to make a mark on the world. With Apple’s products and the inspiration of its users, that power will continue to grow.