Students, faculty feel impact of Steve Jobs’ life, death

The Wakerly Technology Training Center honored Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, for his services. Photo by Aaron Ledesma/ [email protected]

When Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died last Wednesday, many public memorials were set up outside Apple stores, with flowers and apples left in tribute.

While no such memorial has been erected at Marquette, it would be erroneous to say his passing had no impact on the university’s students and faculty.

Carole Burns, director of the Wakerly Technology Training Center, praised specific features of certain Apple products for their ability to equalize social disparities. For example, she said the SIRI voice assistant feature on the upcoming iPhone 4S, which allows users to give voice commands to their phones, helps those who might have previously been unable to use comparable products effectively.

“Imagine what that device does for the sight impaired – it makes them look like everybody else,” Burns said. “Steve Jobs helped normalize society, which is a huge thing.”

Burns said her son has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism-like disorder, and she credits Jobs for more than just creating the iPod and MacBook Pro.

“To me, Steve Jobs was more than the inventor of many technology advances,” she wrote in a blog posting about Jobs’ death. “He was the role model that I would point out to my son. The person I would see in my mind’s eye when I heard words like ‘your child learns differently,’ ‘he’ll never fit in,’ ‘he is socially awkward.’”

Ana Garner, an associate professor of journalism at Marquette, praised Jobs’ developing of the Apple computer to allow free expression of artistry.

“Because (the Apple computer) was so easy to use and with its flexibility, it opened up doors for people to exercise their creativity in ways that PCs did not,” Garner said.

Marquette student Mac owners also reminisced on their admiration for their computers and Steve Jobs.

Jessica Wright, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she grew up using a Mac and that its functions are better equipped for her school work.

“I think it’s been a huge culture revolution … I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an iPod,” Wright said. “I think Steve Jobs contributed greatly to American culture.”

Bridget Kelley, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, also said Apple technology has shaped her life. She said the whole environment and daily routines in which she grew up changed with the technology Jobs created.

Although many appreciate Jobs’ work and various Apple products, some are not sure what to make of the news.

Craig Fischer, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he is not very familiar with Jobs as an entrepreneur, so he is relatively unaffected by his passing. He said he does not know what Jobs’ death means for the future of Apple.

The actual announcement of Jobs’ passing sent a shockwave through cyberspace. Sheldon Levine, community manager for Sysomos, a social media tracking and analytics company, tracked the internet activity following Jobs’ death from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. He found in that time period, the news of Jobs’ death garnered 2.5 million tweets, 13,284 blog mentions and 30,905 news mentions.

“It was interesting because one event affected so many people,” Levine said. “In a 12 hour span, two million tweets had been dedicated to one man who died, from all over the world.”

Levine said he had not seen such high internet activity in the form of tweets surrounding a death since Osama bin Laden’s in May.

A death certificate released yesterday by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department revealed that Jobs died of respiratory arrest resulting from pancreatic cancer that had spread to other organs, The Associated Press reported. Apple’s iPhone 4S, unveiled a day before Jobs’ death, will be released Friday.