Steve’s brain, I doubt
you’ll find bullet-points.
After being among the first to rant about what a horrible interviewer Sarah Lacy was at SXSW, I backed off when the crowd piled on and even ordered her book, became her fan on Facebook and suggested the controversy was a great book-marketing ploy. In her acknowledgements, obviously written before SXSW, she does take a swat at the bloggers who, “reacted violently to her (BusinessWeek cover story that led to the book deal) that it only gave me more press and legitimacy.” (The controversy in the story was the suggestion that Digg was worth $200 million.)
Yesterday, I received the book from Amazon.com and quickly scanned the first couple of chapters — enough to convince me she’s a much better writer than on-stage interviewer. On the page, she doesn’t interject herself into the narrative.
Frankly, I’m typically not a fan of biographies of still active business executives — or in the case of her book, biographical vingettes strung together in a book-length “trend story.” Over the years, I’ve discovered that books about dead people are more instructive than books about the living. Call me old fashioned — or morbid.
For example, I tried really hard to like the recent book about Steve Jobs by Leander Kahney, Inside Steve’s Brain. And while I found it nice that he eschewed the typical recounting of Jobs’ darker side, it is still a bit flat. I was especially disappointed by what must have been a publisher’s request that he put bullet-point “lessons from Steve” at the end of each chapter.
Lesson from Inside Steve’s Brain: If you want to throw cold water on a biography, end each chapter in ready-for-Power Point bullet points. Bullet points in a biography are about as elegant as big buttons on an MP3 player.
Sidenote: I really love the way that Amazon.com “Search Inside” logo juxtaposes with the book cover in that screen grab above.