LAST week, the technology industry in particular, and the world at large, mourned the death of a visionary. Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs died at the mere of 56, just one day after the announcement of the company’s latest iPhone release and new operating system.

Naturally, in this day and age, the news spread quickly. Social media was abuzz – #thankyouSteveJobs and #RIPstevejobs rose up the Twitter trending list quickly, while some people changed their Facebook avatars to mourn his death. Blogs were updated with stories of how Jobs, Apple or both have impacted their lives.

Then there were the other stuff – old YouTube videos featuring Jobs’ speeches became popular, links to web pages featuring his famous quotes were shared and images people had created in tribute of him and his work went viral. One of those images is a silhouette of Jobs with the Apple logo designed by Hong Kong graphic design student Jonathan Mak.

It goes without saying that Jobs was one of the catalysts for all that to be possible, thanks to the technology he introduced to the world. By extension, it was these technologies that contributed to the success of social media, which enabled the news of his death to spread quickly, and made it easy for all those other elements to go viral.

US President Barack Obama probably explained it best when he said in a statement: “There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

Despite the fact that Jobs obviously had a major passion for technology, he also never saw it as an industry that worked in isolation. This, despite the fact that there is so much focus on digital industries at the moment and the communication revolution the world is going through.

Those who have watched the YouTube video of his speech at the Standford University commencement ceremony in 2004 (which has since gone viral after his death) would know that it wasn’t the potential of technology that made Apple what it is today.

Tribute to Steve Jobs, the Apple founder and former CEO, at an Apple computer outlet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In that speech, Jobs talked about how sitting in on a calligraphy class during his college years led to the introduction of typography into the Macintosh system (which, he alluded, Windows copied).

“It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way science can’t capture,” he said of calligraphy during the speech.

For someone who is so associated with technology and is a pioneer in the field (he also the person behind the success of animation studio Pixar), Jobs also appreciated the humanities.

He was also known for saying that Apple (and by default, himself) “existed at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.”

It was not enough that the company was producing the more advanced technologies, but these products had to be “intuitive, easy to use, fun to use, so that they really fit the users …”

As someone who has long admired Jobs, I feel that his biggest legacy he has left behind is not the Mac, or the iPhone or the iPad.

It is the understanding and belief that technology cannot be seen in isolation of every thing else in the world. It is equally important to appreciate what has come before it.

Social media may have helped many of the media featuring Jobs go viral, but without the original mediums – whether it was the video recording of the speeches, the transcription of his interviews for the quotes or even that logo that Jonathan Mak created – there would be nothing to share and spread.

With the current obsession with technology and social media, it is easy to overlook this. Who can blame anyone? After all, this is an exciting time we’re living in and it’s already hard enough keeping up with technology, let alone worry about everything else.

Which is why it is important that moments like these when were are in the mood to look back and reflect (on Jobs’ life and legacy, for example), even if it is caused by something as sad as death, that we remind ourselves of the wise words of someone like him.

In one of his final public appearances on stage, Jobs said that “technology alone is not enough … it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that make our hearts sing.”

Rest in peace, Steve.

* Niki is currently reading for his MA Digital Culture and Society in King’s College London. You can connect with him at or

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