Woz's key to success: Burn the tie, wear T-shirts to work
Megastar geek mauls Singapore in pro-hippy polemic
Singapore is far too strait-laced, says Apple co-founder and engineering hero Steve Wozniak, and employers should let their workers wear T-shirts.
Speaking this morning, Woz told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that a counterculture ethos was vital for creativity and it had a continuing influence on Apple. And a counterculture ethos meant letting people wear what they want to, he said.
You wanna inspire creativity - it's very important to me. What we stand for is creative thinking, being able to figure out different ways of doing things. When you are very structured, almost like a religion, with uniforms then everybody is the same.
Apple could never have happened in a formal culture of Singapore, said Wozniak:
Look at societies like Singapore where bad behaviour is not tolerated and can get you extreme punishments: Where are the creative people? Where are the great artists, where are the great musicians, where are the great writers?
All the creative elements seem to disappear. Though, of course, everybody is educated and has a good job and nice pay and a car.
Thinking for yourself is creativity and that's goes right down to what we were talking about dress, the clothing that you wear - you wear what you want to wear.
In the four-minute interview, Woz also fingered nationalism, the emphasis on school pride and college sports teams as anti-creative forces. Instead, he praised the college drop-outs at Facebook and Yahoo!
However, despite saying that he had always been too close to Steve Jobs to evaluate him properly, Woz did concede that the former CEO of Apple wasn't always a countercultural hero.
I think he's got a lot of liberal counterculture thinking but then Apple does a lot of very conservative things, we control things and have very little tolerance. For example, if an engineer tells a friend something then he's fired.
O tempora o mores
It's "strait-laced", not "straight-laced". Strait means narrow or tight, confined, or strict. Straight means, er, straight.
Oh, and Woz, it's "want to", not "wanna". You'll never get anywhere using language like that.
Woz invented a computer that started the era of the personal computer.
And you changed the world by ....
Wow... seems like here are many more comments from people railing against what they -think- Mr. Wozniac said than comments about what he -did- say. Saying "people should be allowed to choose their work clothes" is very different from "people are required to wear appropriately hip clothes". He didn't say anything about counterculture at all, really; the issues aren't even plotted on the same graph:
(1) restriction of choice to arbitrary point b, by an authority
(2) pressure to choose arbitrary point c, by social grouping or circles of friends
The fact that some people take advantage of the freedom from a loosened (1) so they can subsequently be coerced to point c in (2) does not make a very harsh (1) good, nor does it mean that advocating for a less harsh (1) is the same as saying that (2) is good. This is a common fallacy ('you support rights of defendants at trial; a man on trial is accused of my father's murder; therefore you must support murder... now you must die').
The assumption that Woz means "Everyone wear snarky anti-establishment t-shirts! Fight the man, man!" because he thinks people shouldn't be required to wear suits is absurd.
Also absurd is the idea that the lack of a dress code automatically means an arduous morning search for just the right shirt is absurd. If I worked at a place where a switch was made, I'd probably wear what I do now - jeans and a t-shirt mostly; jeans and a button down shirt in summer, and the reverse in winter. This is not because I feel that I need to conform to cool by wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It is because I find them comfortable.
There needs to be some self-reflection among the most reactionary here, perhaps.
BTW, speaking of ties... back in the '60s or so, my dad worked at a place called Facet, engineering fuel pumps. He worked in a lab with this German guy, maybe in his '60s, who was the quintessential absent-minded professor. For example, upon arriving at work one morning, he got out of his car, left the door open and the engine running, and had to be chased down by a secretary.
At any rate, one day in the lab, Professor Absent was soldering away at a test board. In those days, -everybody- wore a suit, so as bent over to solder, his tie would drift down in front of him. Eventually, the inevitable happened; the end of his tie got too cozy with the soldering iron tip, and commenced combustion.
The professor, though, remained nonplussed. As my father observed, Absent strolled around he room, going about his work, as the flame front crept up his tie.
As the fire started to grow in ernest, though, even Absent started to notice. He finally stopped in his tracks, lifted his head curiously, and said, with a lazy, thoughtful air and the best kind of German accent: "Zomezing ees burrrning..."
It took him a bit of looking before he noticed the smoldering neckpiece below, but he was, naturally, made of sterner stuff than a tie fire could upset. He snagged a pair of scissors, and, over the nearest garbage can, sliced off the incendiary tie below the knot.
So, if you ever detect the faint odor of smoke, spare a thought for my dad's almost-certainly-long-gone compatriot, and thoughtfully intone, in your best German accent, "Zommmm-zing ees burr-neeng..."