When I sat down to write my Virtual Realities column for October (“Success(ion)”), I was fairly certain the end was near for Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. I had privately told some friends (and fellow Apple stockholders) a few months earlier that I thought he would not make it to the end of the year. His final public appearances had clearly been as painful for him as they were to watch.
Still, I did not expect his life to draw to a close so quickly—a mere six weeks—after his resignation as CEO of Apple. Looking back, I realize I should not have been surprised. Jobs was a man who was driven by any number of passions—one might even say demons (or rather daemons)—that made it impossible for him to slow down, until he no longer had a choice.
Jobs drew a bright line between his public and private lives, and most profiles pointed to that fact as evidence that he was (in the inevitable phrase) “an intensely private man.” He was that, and yet there seems to have been more to this division of public and private. It was his way of trying to ensure (in that quintessential 1980’s phrase) that he spent “quality time” with his family, even if they missed out on “quantity time.”
Yet one of the most poignant stories to emerge in the wake of Jobs’ death vividly illustrates the problem with “quality time.” ...