The Four Easter Eggs Hidden in Steve Jobs’ Stanford Address

Did He Know The Paradox of The Smartphone All Along?

Here’s a rabbit hole — What if Steve Jobs hid Easter Eggs as a how-to guidebook for surviving smartphones? Four Easter Eggs to be exact:

  1. Dopamine is the itch, not the scratch.
  2. The black mirror.
  3. The middle way.
The wince-like Mona Lisa smile of a smartphone user.
  • And is it possible, that he gave us the antidote?
Steve Jobs during his Stanford Address, June 25th, 2005
  1. Apple and Pixar’s history of hidden Easter Eggs.
  2. Why Jobs might hide four Easter Eggs surrounding his Stanford Address?
  3. The meaning of these Easter Eggs.

Thinking Different About the Term “Smartphone”

Smart. It all begins with that word. The etymology of the word smart reveals an unexpected history.

Smart means intelligence AND pain. Thus the term “smartphone” itself is a paradox. A double-entendre.

A piece of driftwood with SMART carved into it. Author’s collection.

Steve Jobs First Easter Egg is the Paradox of the Smartphone/ Painphone

“The Tech Backlash” is old news by now. But not for parents. Modern parents can tell the world all about “the painphone.”

Establishing Steve Jobs’ History of Hidden Easter Eggs at Apple and Pixar

What is an Easter Egg? Not the colorful kind that celebrate Christ’s crucifixion — the other kind, in the cultural sense.

The Genesis Of The Easter Egg Hunt

Ok, based on this history, we’ve established Steve Jobs’ pattern of hidden messages.

Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It

Thus, my premise is this simple question — can we learn anything new (and helpful) about the Smartphone Era if we reexamine its creator and genesis story?

The Stanford Address: The Quotiest of All Steve Jobs Quotes

For starters, Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address is the most-watched graduation speech of all time.

What If We Think of the Stanford Address as the Book Of Genesis of the Smartphone Era?

Tons of thoughtful analysis has been created throughout time about the meaning compacted within the book of Genesis in the Bible.

“The way in which a story begins, is the starting event that creates a moment of change.”

Robert McKee would point out that the proper interpretation of the metaphors and themes presented at the start of a story is what provides the basis for understanding the deeper meaning inherent throughout the entire story.

What Can we Learn About the Stanford Address From Jobs’ Famous Apple Keynote Speeches

  1. a revolutionary mobile phone
  2. and a breakthrough internet communications device.

The Stanford Address: The First Story About Connecting-The-Dots (And A Key Contradiction)

In the Stanford Address, Jobs’ line in his first story “You can’t connect the dots looking forwardcontradicts another of his famous quotes, “Creativity is just connecting things.”

Steve Jobs quote about creativity.

The Root of The Painphone Problem and Tech Backlashes

When we connect-the-dots back in time to the Stanford Address, we see the beginning of a startling shift in what it means to be alive. I think you know what I mean.

  1. Machine Learning
  2. Big Data
  3. Algorithms
  4. weird AI
  5. Existential threats like Technological Singularity
  6. Everyday threats, like upset circadian rhythms and the “Wolverine” in the living room.

Dopamine Is The Itch, Not The Scratch

To summarize, Dopamine as a nuerotransmitter was discovered in 1957 and has been widely misunderstood for the last 60 years. Ask someone on the street and if they’ve even heard of Dopamine, they’ll probably say, “It’s one of those feel-good chemicals.”

EASTER EGG #2 — The Dopamine Ring (Dopamine Seeking-Reward Loops) That Wrote History

The intelligence-pain dichotomy manifests on one hand in the many ways which using the Smartphone in our pocket makes us Superhuman.

The Stanford Address: The Second Story about Love and Loss (And Mark Rothko)

But why Mark Rothko?

№6 (Violet, Green and Red)

Rothko On Delivering A Religious Experience

Perhaps Jobs appreciated Rothko’s paintings for their efficiency — their simple, powerful (and expensive) aesthetic?

White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)

Rothko Chapel and The Abyss

Completed in 1971 as a non-denominational spiritual space, it is free, and open to all. Inside, the Rothko Chapel features fourteen enormous, dark canvases. Ultimately, they were his final paintings before Rothko committed suicide.

The canvas at Rothko Chapel
The iPhone One

EASTER EGG #3 — The Black Mirror

Steve Jobs would have come to this Rothko Chapel painting at the end of his Rothko book.

  1. The non-denominational, spiritual context of the Rothko Chapel.
  2. The cancer battle and end of Steve Jobs’ life.

Is the Black Mirror a “Call to Turn Off the Tech”?

Maybe. Although that would be quite the Luddite’s dive back into Walden Pond.

Is Self-Love Patient, Is Self-Love Kind?

To think about this another way, the famous “love is patient, love is kind” Bible verse Corinthians 13, includes the cryptic line — “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

The Stanford Address: The Third Story about Death Reveals Itself As “A Buddha Talk”

Contemplating death seems like a counter-intuitive way to seek happiness and contentment doesn’t it? That was Jobs final piece of advice — and it’s a rabbit hole.

Jobs’ Dharma

Did Jobs synthesize the downside and possibility of 5 billion smartphone addicts?

Life Is Suffering

Buddhism has basic precepts that take an instant to understand, and others that can take a lifetime to understand.

  • Suffering due to change, or the impermanence of all things in life.
  • The suffering due to conditioned states, dependent on, or affected by something else.

EASTER EGG #4 — The Middle Way of Buddhism.

The mysteries of the Four Noble Truths, the role of Dopamine in History, the positive habits the Middle Way and even Jobs’ Stanford-Address-as-Dharma-Talk are enough to meditate on for a lifetime.

“The Great Way is Gateless, approached in a thousand ways. Once past this checkpoint, you stride through the Universe.” -Buddhist precept

The Four Easter Eggs represented in Jobs’ Stanford Address—

  1. Dopamine is the itch not the scratch
  2. the Black Mirror
  3. the Middle Way

Pattern recognition is the task of the Artist. This is the pattern recognition you’re looking for.

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