The learnable reality distortion field

Last month I linked to one of many blogger reviews of the Steve Jobs biography claiming that, in the end, the book does not offer a very revealing portrait of what made Jobs special.

Over my holiday vacation I’ve had the chance to cruise through a good two thirds of the biography myself, and I have to disagree with that assessment.

Some of the criticism leveled at the book, both in the review I linked to and in other places, tends to focus on how Isaacson got a few details wrong like what clothing Jobs wore to which Macworld, or the position of menu bars in the Mac interface. It’s probably worth remembering that the book was rushed to publication (skipped ahead by a few months) due to the timing of Jobs death.

I don’t actually get the impression that Jobs could have been summed up as a “self-absorbed, immature, emotionally unstable control-freak.” I get the impression that his attitudes did change over the course of his life, and I think there are some good hints as to what made Jobs Jobs.

I have to finish the book – but as a short list of already interesting tidbits that I remember:

  • Jobs regarded himself more as an artist than as a businessman, and made business decisions the way a sculptor would make decisions about their work.
  • Jobs won a lot of concessions/agreements from people simply by being persistent.
  • Jobs “reality distortion field” was learned from a guy named Robert Friedland. The most interesting part of that sentence is the wort “learned.”