Why the Heck is Steve Jobs on Time's 20 Most Influential Americans List?
While his inclusion might make sense to those who use one or more of Apple's products every single day, there is a bigger issue at hand. How can Jobs appear on a list that also features the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Ford, Wilbur and Orville Wright, and Abraham Lincoln?
This is a nice honor, to be certain. Time is a highly respected publication; if it says that a man or woman is influential, people will take notice.
Jobs is recognized by the Time staff for being the "high priest of the computer age."
"There was always something of the monkish seeker about Steve Jobs, from his days as a part-time student at Reed College in Oregon, through his Wanderjahr in Asia to his pursuit of perfection in the dazzling products he and his colleagues created," Time wrote.
Time rightfully gives Jobs credit for saving Apple from executives who had all but ran the company into the ground. After Jobs intervened and returned to the corporation he helped build, "Apple's retail outlets became the highest-grossing stores in the world, and as of 2012, Apple was the world's most valuable company."
"Jobs was a visionary whose great genius was for design: he pushed and pushed to make the interface between computers and people elegant, simple and delightful," Time continued. "He always claimed his goal was to create products that were 'insanely great.' Mission accomplished."
At the end of the article, Time notes that the story is excerpted from its new book, The 100 Most Influential People of All Time, "which profiles spiritual icons, leaders, explorers, visionaries and cultural titans throughout human history."
With that description -- and four paragraphs of praise -- Time has justified why Jobs is featured on its list of most influential Americans.
But why has Time chosen to include Jobs, who satisfies the "visionary" criteria, but not George Lucas, the famed Star Wars creator who founded Industrial Light & Magic? ILM is responsible for bringing dinosaurs to life in Jurassic Park, a visual achievement that inspired Lucas to make his long-awaited Star Wars prequels. ILM artists and animators have been nominated for dozens of awards, including several Oscars.
Star Wars all but defined the term "Hollywood blockbuster." It created a cultural phenomenon that continues to this day, more than 30 years after the original Star Wars was released in theaters.
Lucas also founded the company that became Pixar, which Time referred to as an "innovative studio that revolutionized film animation with its 1995 computer-generated hit, Toy Story."
Lucas clearly meets the criteria for "visionary" and "cultural titan." But the publication makes no mention of Lucas' achievements in its list of influential Americans.
Time also ignores Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Jobs. Without Wozniak, Apple would not even exist.
Some have argued that Bill Gates -- another cultural titan -- belongs on the list, if only for his philanthropic efforts. Others wonder why Jackie Robinson did not make the cut.
That, however, is the problem with creating a definitive list of any kind. By awarding a select number of Americans, Time ran the risk of excluding some of our nation's most important figures.
But that was to be expected, and that is why they call it a list, not the "Database of Every Influential American That Ever Lived."
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