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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Steve Jobs' Biographer to Speak in S.F. on a Complex Man at a Confusing Time

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 8:00 AM


Steve Jobs always knew how to captivate an audience. Through strong performances over the years introducing technological advances at Apple Inc., he made it nearly impossible to see an Apple product without associating it with him. But in the wake of his death, people seem to be more fascinated to learn about the man who gave them the Macintosh, the iPhone, and the iPad. The contradictions: Was he a great man, or a cruel man? Or is it possible he was both? The black turtleneck. The cryptic last words. People are turning to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, to help deconstruct Jobs like a piece of complicated technology, breaking him down personal detail by personal detail in the hope of better understanding the inner workings of an enigmatic innovator.

Here's another mystery: Why is the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco hosting a conversation with Isaacson next month at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday? Will anyone who knows what FaceTime is really have the time to attend? (And of those who do, how many will be part of the 99 percent who choose to be at Occupy SF instead?) Still, given how well Isaacson's Steve Jobs book has been selling, expect that will also apply to attendance at this event.

Isaacson doesn't gloss over Jobs' intricacies and flaws. Recently he presented a rather unbecoming, convoluted character sketch to 60 Minutes:

"He was very petulant. He was very brittle. He could be very, very mean to people at times. Whether it was to a waitress in a restaurant, or to a guy who had stayed up all night coding, he could just really go at them and say, 'You're doin' this all wrong. It's horrible.' And you'd say, 'Why did you do that? Why weren't you nicer?' And he'd say, 'I really wanna be with people who demand perfection. And this is who I am.'"

The Wednesday event will probably cover similar territory -- not that it's likely to deter the masses who still need their Jobs fix, especially so close to Apple turf. Then again, it is at a most inconvenient time. Don't the promoters know that only new iPhone announcements warrant us to drop everything we're doing?

"Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs" starts at 11 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 14) at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), S.F. Isaacson speaks with Kevin Kelley of Wired magazine. Admission is $10-$25.

Follow us on Twitter: @taylorfriedman and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook.

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