Apple Computers, Steve Jobs, and Plastic Surgery

One of my nephews is about to graduate from university and has a keen interest in architecture, urban design, and heritage buildings. Like many students, he has used an inexpensive IBM clone computer running a version of Windows since before leaving high school, but he is about to buy a new Mac, and, already owning an iPhone, he is very excited at the prospect of visiting the Mac Store near his home.

For years I have encouraged both him and his parents to switch to Apple products (after numerous visits trying to help with their struggles to integrate their photos, music and other files on their home PC). Why do people who will spend tens of thousands of dollars on expensive cars hesitate to spend a few hundred extra on a computer that will make their lives easier than the alternative (and last longer, ultimately costing less)?

told my nephew, Sam, how twenty two years ago, after a six month struggle with an Olivetti word processor, an accountant friend sold me a used MAC SE 6800 computer and changed my life. Reading Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs over the Xmas holiday, http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Walter-Isaacson/697650.  I was profoundly struck by how the advances in the Mac since that first SE paralleled the rapid development of my practice. First with the sheer ease of use that first computer introduced, then in 1992 with a MAC CI and a video capture device and Photoshop we gained the ability to do videoimaging (digital cameras were then over $16000 and only used by professional news photogs).

Later, it was on the old SE that I wrote the first edition of my book: Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, A Patient’s Guide, usually with my black lab KD at my feet, and often with one child in my lap. There were the “think different ads in the late 90′s, which appealed to any innovative person. We bought the very first iMac for our front desk in the old office (they looked like an extreme speed skier’s helmet). We insisted on a Mac- only office when everyone was telling us the brand was dead.

When the first iPod came out and I saw the ads featuring a classic image of Hendrix, I said I want one of those. Though I practiced self denial on that one, for a while, a few months later someone I love dearly gave me a 10 gig Ipod for my birthday. I still have the original with the wheel, which actually rotates. The other day I booted it up it still works. What really struck me (and I am far from alone, which is why my nephew says one out of three people was reading the Isaacson biography around the pool where he was vacationing during the holiday season) was the most arresting visual of the keynote address Jobs gave to introduce the iPad in 2010. Apple, he said (and I now know he was paraphrasing Edward Land, inventor of the instant Polaroid Camera) has always been at the junction of Liberal Arts and Technology. Behind him was a visual showing street signs labelled Arts and Technology.

In my application to medical school in 1973, I had written (we had to write a short essay as to why we wanted to be doctors) something uncannily similar. I saw medicine as a way of combining my interests in both Arts and Sciences. I had done my pre-medical requisite courses while enrolled in the UBC faculty of Arts, and while also studying Philosophy, History, Sociology and majoring in English.

Plastic Surgery, when I finally encountered it during my first post-medical school year as an intern, struck me suddenly, as the ultimate junction of arts (humanities) and science. Until I heard Jobs speak, and realized he was truly at that nexus. Everything in the Apple universe was infused with his idea of beauty , grace, and an effortlessly integrated user experience. This was an ideal which could only come from someone with deep insight into both the liberal arts and technology.

As Walter Isaacson says, the commencement address Jobs gave to Stanford University’s graduating class in 2005 is one of the most profound and inspirational addresses ever given. If you haven’t seen it, get it on youtube or however you can. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA I am late in writing something of a tribute to Jobs, with this blog coming months after his tragically early death. I was profoundly affected, reading his biography.

The world is a lesser place without him and we are all affected in ways we will appreciate more as the years go by.