Analyzing Steve Jobs’ Language at D8: He’s a “People” Person!



So Uncle Steve appeared at the D8 conference, and now we know things about Apple and Steve’s sex life that maybe we didn’t before. But did you look at the language he used? We did, and there are a few nice surprises in there.

Steve Jobs is an incredibly accomplished public speaker, as anyone who’s watched a clip of his professional presentations at Apple conferences can attest. His 2005 Stanford commencement address is also compelling viewing, and reveals a more personal and troubled side to the man. But don’t forget he’s CEO of one of the world’s biggest companies, one that’s pushing the cutting edge of technology and consumer products, so Steve is truly steeped in the tech world. He’s a geek at heart.

Which makes the language he used during his public interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at D8 particularly fascinating. We edited a transcript to carve out the usual fill-in words in English, and then used the huge text feed to drive the creation of the word cloud up at the top, and it reveals right off the bat that the most important word Steve used during the hour and a half of interview was “people.” Fabulous, isn’t it? Not “Apple,” or “technology” or even “iPad,” which is the gadget that’s selling like hotcakes around the world right now. Nope–“people.” While he used the word in all sorts of contexts, it’s a sign that Steve is acutely aware of people’s opinions, wants, requests, desires and even failings. Perhaps this sensitivity to the human condition is behind the passionate Apple fan world, and even a factor in why consumers seem to love Apple products.

Words like “good,” “well,” “want,” “great,” “like” and “think” underline this very human angle to his responses to questions. This is a man who doesn’t want to blind you with science or business-blather–behavior you may expect from a CEO of a tech company (and which speakers like Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, or Google’s bumbling executive team are sometimes guilty of).

The other thing to note is that the word “going” is the second most prominent in that list: Apple’s boss seems highly future-focused. Meanwhile keywords like “iPhone” and “apps” and “HTML5” were used much less, and that’s a surprise. You’d expect Jobs to be compelled to big-up his company’s strong technology points. Clearly he’s so supremely confident that Apple’s gear will sell itself on its merits that he doesn’t need to waste time referring to them.

Of course, all of the tech world’s eyes will be on Steve again on Monday, for his keynote at the WWDC where we expect to learn about new Apple gear. I wonder if a wordcloud of that speech will include a trademark “boom!” or two?


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