Apple co-founder Wozniak discusses importance of self-learning and mobile in letter to student

Apple co-founder Wozniak discusses importance of self-learning and mobile in letter to student

Steve Wozniak has shed some light on this youth and the important role that he sees mobile playing in today’s age after a letter he wrote to a Korean high-school student was released in to the public domain by her school.

Apple co-founder Wozniak was the star guest at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity held in June last year, during which he discussed ‘The End of the PC Era and Future of the IT Industry’. The talk made such an impression on one student — 19-year-old Yang Yeon-su — that she wrote to him, explaining that the school doesn’t get “many opportunities to talk with successful people” due to its rural location.

Yang’s letter — translated by — asks for “some hopeful messages” for the school and its students. The response from Wozniak covers a number of different topics. Here are a few excerpts we’ve highlighted.

Learning to design computers and the benefits of self-learning:

One accident that happened to me was that I taught myself, with no books, how to design computers in high school. I loved doing it and designed computers all the time, from descriptions of them in manuals by the companies that made them. I designed the same computers over and over and made a game out of trying to use fewer and fewer parts, coming up with tricks to accomplish my task that could never be in a book. They were ’tricks‘ in my own head. I felt that some of these tricks would be used by probably no other computer designer in the world. In my game world, on paper, where I could never afford to build my designs, I felt I was one of the best in the world.

The best things I did in my young years leading up to the early Apple computers were done because I had little money and had to think deeply to achieve the impossible. Also, I had never done those technologies or studied them. I had to write the book myself. Being self-taught, figuring out how to design computers with pencil and paper, made me skilled at finding solutions that I had not been taught.

The importance of mobile and simplifying technology:

Every aspect of our lives and our companies will be changing and improving based on mobile technology. Young people are already ahead in this game and have good ideas of how any operation can be improved. Always focus on good human interface, user interface. Computer apps are not to be judged by what they do or how well they do it. Rather, it is more important that they feel natural to normal humans and they are led to the right actions. An ultimate example is when you speak what you want. If you don’t have to worry about having the right computer words, but just speak it as you would to a human, then the computer has totally gotten out of your way. Finding ways to do this will be very important in the future. The smartest approaches come from understanding normal people.

The often unseen but significant role of the cloud and data:

And every action you take on a smartphone has the ‘other end’ – the servers and storage in data centers. They are doing more calculation and organization and presentation of information than your handheld device, which is mainly displaying the results these days. The cloud represents the information content of the world, which could never be put on the storage [disk] in your mobile device, or even your personal computer. It‘s easy to see a world of job opportunities writing apps but don’t forget the importance of implementing the data center side of those apps. There‘s a lot of work to be done at that level too. Apps are like furniture. There are infinite variations until we have a few standards that change little. So this is a huge opportunity in the future.

While new technology is providing access and information in new ways worldwide — such as access to government ministers — email, a much maligned communications platform, is also making the old fashion route of direct conversation all the more possible. It’s pretty amazing that Wozniak can inspire a student from across the world in this way.

Headline image via eschipul / Flickr

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