Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Joanna of Arc

The Mac that started the revolution.  Photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

I just read this story about Joanna Hoffman.  I had never heard of her.  She was the fifth person hired at Apple and earned the rare reputation of being someone who could (and did) stand up to Steve Jobs.  She even won an award by her peers for two years running for doing so.  In the sources below, I have a link to her story.  It's a good read.

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a visionary.  Some call him a genius and...yeah, I'll concur.  Thanks to him, I have the MacBook Air to type this blog post on and an iPhone to do dozens of things that were impossible on a phone five years ago.  However, Steve Jobs was also known for reprehensible social behavior.  Business Insider documented 16 examples of Steve Jobs being "a jerk."  The link is below if you'd like to read them.  I'm not going to repeat them here because this post is about Joanna, not Steve.

I like hearing about people who stand up to people who think they are entitled to be jerks.  If you're a hobby historian like me, you read about how kings and despots used fear to keep others in line, others weaker than themselves.  There are those rare individuals who come along and stand up to the oppressors, the bullies.  Sometimes, they live happily ever after.  Other times, not so much.

One such case was Joan of Arc.  For her troubles she was burned at the stake.  Not exactly material for Disney's next animated film.  Still, we remember her and admire her for what she did...and the price she paid.

Rosseti's painting of Joan of Arc, public domain, full link below

Now from the title of this blog, you might be thinking that it's a stretch to compare Joanna Hoffman to Joan of Arc and you'd be right.  Joan of Arc took up the sword (an amazing feat in and of itself for a teen-age girl in the Fifteenth century) and died for her cause.  Joanna simply told Steve Jobs when he was wrong. 

By point is in today's world we should admire those who stand up and talk truth to power.  Although it is sad that Steve Jobs died it doesn't change the fact he had profound character flaws.  And if you worked for Jobs, you saw those on display a bunch of times.
As for the rest of us, we wait for the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch.

Speaking of the iPhone, one could argue that technology has become the new sword.  That men like Steve Jobs was a king, ruling over a kingdom not a nation, yet quite real.  

When looking at it from this standpoint, then perhaps Joanna Hoffman has more in common with Joan of Arc than first believed.   
Be well my friends,


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