Who, exactly, was Steve Jobs? Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs has sparked an intriguing debate about the identity of the real Jobs. According to The New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell, Isaacson’s biography proved that Jobs was a “tweaker” – somebody who took other people’s ideas and perfected them. But Apple watchers like Daring Fireball’s John Gruber strongly disagreed, arguing that Jobs was anything but a tweaker and taking Isaacson to task for not telling us what Jobs “actually did” and who he was.
Who better to resolve this row than Isaacson himself, who came into our San Francisco TechCrunchTV studio yesterday to talk about his best-selling book and to answer his critics. No, Isaacson explained, Gladwell is wrong – Jobs wasn’t primarily a tweaker. But Gruber is wrong too, Isaacson added for good measure, in saying that Steve Jobs failed to explain who Steve Jobs really was. Steve was essentially “an artist”, Issaacson told me; that’s the key to unraveling Apple’s enigmatic icon.
This is the first piece of a four part interview with Isaacson. Tomorrow, Jobs’ biographer explains to me Steve Jobs’ historic influence on our culture.