Silence Is A Part Of The Discussion
by Michael Hay on Oct 11, 2011
Have you ever watched a completely uncut interview or viewed footage of Steve Jobs when he doesn’t have a script? From the moment he announced his official retirement this summer I have done exactly that. When the moment called for it, Jobs would pause, sometimes uncomfortably, collect his thoughts and then respond. Most recently, I watched Steve’s extensive interview at D8. There, he pauses on several occasions, once about the Gizmodo incident, once in response to an audience question about content business/distribution, and a mild pause when reflecting on his 2005 Stanford speech. In every instance the silence spoke loudly, making me, as the listener, pay even more attention.
In the same way the white space in a document, software application or even hardware device redoubles a user’s focus on what is actually there. Steve and the company he gave birth to accomplish exactly the same. You will find this principal, one of the 10 usability commandments of aesthetic and minimalist design, applied in Apple’s products and product portfolio. Space is given to sharpen the focus on what is important.
With this in mind, I want to look at last week’s activities and pose a question. Almost since the beginning of this year the press, the blog-o-sphere, etc. have been saying that a new iPhone would be just around the corner. Creative hobbyists and design firms pitched in with crazy designs (see video), many speculatively produced cases, etc.
In short, everyone who could offered predictions and set expectations for what Apple was going to do (except, well, Apple). Then Apple sent out invitations to an event on October 4th for what we all now know as the release of the iPhone 4S. Apple’s event dashed many expectations, mostly around giving birth to a bold, newly designed iPhone 5. However, even more importantly, the event itself was not widely broadcast and the tone was low key — I watched the event in its entirety via AppleTV. The following day, on October 5th, the iPhone 4S adorned Apple’s website in its glistening glory. Later that evening when news broke that Mr. Steve P. Jobs passed away, Apple adorned their site with a portrait of their founder, linking to a profoundly simple epitaph.
I can see clearly now that the subdued somber tone of the iPhone 4S announcement was creating space for something vastly more important; Apple was practicing culturally what their founder encoded in their corporate DNA, creating space to focus on celebrating Steve’s life.
All of this gets me to my parting question.
To celebrate the life and achievement of Steve Jobs, what space are you creating to focus on something more important?