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Michael W. TaftRSS Feed of this column.

A professional writer, editor, and for more than two decades, Michael W. Taft is fascinated by what neuroscience, biology, psychology, archeology, and technology can tell us about the human condition... Read More »

On October 5th, Steve Jobs died. At first I was surprised at how choked up I got at his death—it’s not like I ever met him—until I realized that I wasn’t the only one. From special issues of The New Yorker and Wired magazines, to spontaneous memorials of flowers and candles at Apple stores, and front page articles everywhere, it seems that the world has taken a moment to mourn the loss of Jobs. The outpouring of sorrow and grief, in the era of Occupy Wall Street, may seem astonishing. Steve Jobs was, after all, a cantankerous stranger who ran a corporation, at a time when little love is lost for corporations. Why do we care? Why all the sorrow?

Watching almost any episode of FX's Sons of Anarchy, you can’t help but notice that Jax, the young biker protagonist, is a bit of a stud. There's always some vixen falling for his patched,  faded, hairy, tattooed charms. He’s handsome, but not wealthy or powerful, and he's a criminal and murderer who would, in real life, probably spend years behind bars. Hard to imagine him as the ideal mate.
Tuesday evening, Facebook made major changes to its news feed and today the Internet is a hornet’s nest of complaints, protests, and threats. There is a new round of “quit Facebook” memes, and a collective groan of pain from millions of users. Similar dissent occurred when Netflix recently spun off its DVD-by-mail service into a separate company, Qwikster, or earlier this year when dating site OKCupid was purchased by the behemoth Match.com.
The fury of Hurricane Irene was out-categorized by a second hurricane that occurred at the same time: the media windstorm covering the event — a newspaper and broadcast blitz pummeling the public sphere with the unrelenting force of a tsunami.