I’m something of an Apple fanboy (my first computer was an Apple ][e, I was the one kid on my dorm floor with a Mac SE, I own a MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone, and I follow a bunch of Apple blogs), so I was quite interested in as my podcast app served up the the latest episode of This American Life, “Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory.” The first half of the podcast comes from Mike Daisey’s monolog “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, wherein he describes what he found when he travelled to Shenzhen and talked to people who worked at Foxconn (which builds Apple’s products) and other factories. In short, what he found was quite distressing — overwork, health issues, blacklists for employees who complain, and more. The second part is a fact-check of his reporting, which basically states that, yeah, much of what Daisey says holds up.
This is an extremely important story about globalization, manufacturing, our fetishizing of consumer electronics, corporate responsibility, and at the heart of it all is Apple. Which leads me to wonder, why haven’t any Apple blogs (at least the 10 or so I follow) linked to this yet? These are sites that will spill a 1000 words of electronic ink on wholly unsubstantiated rumors. Why isn’t this rigorously researched piece with Apple at the heart warranting a mention? (In particular, I’m looking at you, Daring Fireball.) I suspect it’s because Mike Daisey has the temerity to suggest that Apple (and its customers) are supporting some rather heinous work practices, and we’d all just rather stick our fingers in our ears and go “la la la.” Which is disheartening. This story is big, important, and meaningful.