Where Would We Be Without Steve Jobs?

At a gathering with friends last night, we exchanged regrets about the news of Steve Jobs' death.

Later (read: a few beers later), we fell into a debate over who was more influential in our lives: Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein?

The conversation never really settled on a sensible answer. Because it's not a sensible question.

Whatever, it was late.

We could agree, however, that 4 out of 5 of us in that room literally had a MacBook or iPad glowing in our laps throughout our discussion. And that, as President Obama pointed out, is a testament to Jobs' influence.

It's at least a testament to the fact that Apple succeeded at making its products more desirable, even across "enemy lines" in the very home of Microsoft.

Reading obituaries and other articles about Jobs that took over the net this morning (especially this great collection of quotes via Huffington Post), I feel less silly for our lofty comparison. Scratch that: it's still silly. But I'm not embarrassed to share it.

Jobs didn't just build great gadgets; he helped show us how to use new technology in ways that make sense - in ways, you could argue, that bring us together.

You could also argue that the gadget craze is frying our attention span, shortening our dinner conversation and potentially even giving us brain cancer...

But I wouldn't blame those things on Steve Jobs. Just like I wouldn't say Albert Einstein is responsible for the aftermath of an atomic bomb explosion.

Jobs helped give us really incredible tools - and, in his public work, married those inventions with pretty inspiring philosophy.

Regardless of how I feel about Apple's sometimes frightening influence over the entire world, today seems like the right moment to remember that it is up to me to figure out how to use these tools for good and not evil.

Or at the very least, to mitigate how many honey badger videos I watch and get back to working on my own innovations.

This post has been edited since its original publication.