Religions of the new age

People “follow” businesses, forgetting the pioneers

The newspapers of October 5, 2011 were flooded with sensational news – The visionary co-founder and CEO of the Apple, Steve Jobs had died, giving up a long battle with cancer. Every news channel covered the story, interviewing his friends and colleagues. Documentaries on his extraordinary life and long, successful career were flashed repeatedly across channels, hailing him the genius who “changed everything” in the computer industry. However, as the thousands of people walked to Apple stores placing flowers, candles and iPads around posters of Jobs, far away in a nondescript house in New Jersey, a man slightly older than Jobs, suffering from cancer was losing his battle for life. Dennis Ritchie, the creator of the C programming language died a week later.

Yes, I’m talking about THE C programming language. The language on which Unix and Linux are written, the language that is behind the millions of web servers around the world, the language that is the base of numerous other languages, the language that powers the Apple software! And though it sparked a wave of mourning in the industry and the true technical community, the media coverage Dennis Ritchie’s death received was not even close to what Jobs got. Both of them, without a doubt, were exceptional in their fields, but what bothers me is what this represents: marketing campaign manipulating the mind of the common man, making him appreciate only the brand, and forget the real inventors.

While everyone listens to Steve Jobs’ inspirational speeches, or spend hours on end reading about the new “features” of Android very few have the inclination to look a level deeper into interesting projects and wonder how they work, who made them, and how they went about solving problems they faced while doing so. As a result, most people are taken for a ride, made to believe that the few Godlike businessmen they see on TV created the computer industry from scratch. The fact that this strategy affects most people shows us something startling – despite the fancy coating of education, most people today are still hardwired with a tendency to follow without questioning, to not have a judgement of their own, to worship.

Its not crafting clever ads to propagate a product that's bad. The problem starts when companies want loyalty, try to get more users “worship” them. They portray their products as the trend, something people will regret not having, and drill hagiographies of CEO s and founders into people’s minds through the media, making business leaders the gurus, as businesses turn into religions. In doing so, they leave behind inventors, who don’t get a share of the spotlight.

And that’s how the true pioneers get neglected. People get mixed up in the “clash of the titans”, pick a side and fight for it. They’re always ready to defend their Big Brother, always ready for a two minutes hate, and forget the real inventors as their Ministry of Truth has unknowingly overshadowed the creators with marketing techniques that focus only on showmen. So the next time you fire up your laptop or smart phone, don’t say “Google rocks”, or “Apple is legendary” because they say they make great products, or because people around you think they’re cool. Look at the product, and think of who made it, how it might have been made. See for yourself how much of innovation actually went into the product. Even if you don’t understand the technicalities, you will acknowledge the developers, and credit the ones who really deserve it.