Thursday, April 21, 2016

William Morris and Steve Jobs

As I've been savouring Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs,  I'm often struck by some of the parallels between Steve Jobs and William Morris, and the similarity of their visions.

I am not alone in this. Perhaps most notable is Mukul Kasavan's article The Apple of Our Eye. In the piece, the author argues "that Apple is the lineal descendant of the Kelmscott Press", but concludes that Morris would have been disappointed with Apple products being produced in "Chinese sweatshops" (that's probably true). It's a great read, though I disagree with the author's conclusion that Steve Jobs would have somehow disappointed William Morris.

I think Morris would have been thrilled to see an innovator with a vision taking on the establishment. After all, Morris himself was not above a bit of hypocrisy. Those of us who are more familiar with William Morris' entrepreneurial endeavours will recall that Morris was often disappointed with the fact that he couldn't produce goods affordably while paying workers well. It was a constant source of frustration for him.

It's not easy to be an idealist in a real world. And in that respect, Morris and Jobs would have had a lot in common.

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