Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda
When I heard that Creative Selection was on the list of ‘Best Books of 2018’, I was already a 100 pages in. This, however, came as no surprise because, by then, I had fallen in love with the book. And even though it is common knowledge that Apple has been dropping the ball lately when it comes to innovation, the author’s masterful narration effectively rekindled my somewhat lost love for the tech giant.
Creative Selection is about how creativity flourished under the stewardship of Steve Jobs through the eyes of one of the most successful programmers at Apple – Ken Kocienda. He is the man behind ‘autocorrect’, a feature that has become customary in almost all handheld devices today. He has worked on projects ranging from Safari to the iPad keyboard and been instrumental in designing some of the most fundamental Apple software.
In ten fascinating chapters, Kocienda transports the reader to an age where handheld technology was nascent and the iPhone was still a covert project. The author shuffles back and forth in time, without losing sense of the plot, and carefully crafts his story along the way. His one-on-one interactions with Steve Jobs, though brief, speak volumes about the culture at Apple and ultimately, this is what makes the book feel real.
What makes it bookshelf worthy?
I am an ardent mystery fan and rarely do I ever enjoy knowing the ending before it is time. With Creative Selection, however, I knew how the final product turned out, but I found myself intrigued by the thought that went into it. Funnily enough, this narrative swap is what I enjoyed the most.
Another interesting element is how while candidly narrating his side of the story, the author actually imparts valuable lessons. He cites personal experiences and shares anecdotes to shed light on Apple’s thought-process – the art of creatively selecting the best. He does get extremely technical at times (for the sake of explaining his work), but skillfully offsets its mundane nature with a relatable example.
Lastly, the author’s mere explanation of how certain software came into being made me appreciate technology even more. Simple acts like scrolling, zooming and swiping, that are often taken for granted, are so thoughtfully described that it makes one marvel at the level of detail that went into them.
I have worked closely with programmers for a little over 2 years so the technical jargon wasn’t extremely overwhelming. For a layman, I would imagine, it could be confusing. And as much as the author tries to dumb it down, there are parts that I myself found tricky.
That being said, Kocienda has done a wonderful job with this book. It is as close to Steve Jobs’s working style as one can get. If that’s not incentive enough, the book also houses charming illustrations in every chapter that make the read even more stimulating. Creative Selection is an ode to the brains behind the user-friendly technology that Apple pioneered and is a must-have for those who are interested in its influential product design. Apple fan or not, here is a book that will inspire you endlessly and hopefully elicit admiration for the minds that have, for all practical purposes, shaped the way we live.