Blog Police


Welcome to the second blog council review, WOOOH! After meeting with Jordi and Frank we have some nice feedback for you all. Also, we decided to theme this blog review, so think back to your high school days and get ready for some superlatives later in the post. We could tell everyone took the time to watch the play carefully but there were a few points that could use a bit of work…

  • A lot of people’s usernames make it difficult to know who actually wrote the post. Be proud of your posts and change your user name to something more obvious
  • You’re all beautiful people; get a picture so we can look at those hot mugs as we read your thoughts.
  • Ratings! Those stars are there for a reason, use them! It will be really helpful to your classmates to rate the blogs on quality. Don’t be afraid to say something isn’t very good!
  • Page title — we decided it would be fun and interesting if each new blog council picks a new page title that has something to do with the topic.
  • Try to use some media. Some funny photos or serious graphs will add a lot of value to your posts Continue reading
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The Whole Truth


I found the video “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” to provide a very interesting perspective on Mike Daisey’s performance.  I liked how there were periodic breaks in the performance to give commentary and additional notes to judge the validity of Daisey’s statements and provide additional sources.  The use of additional sources and perspectives put less weight on the Daisey’s story and offers the audience a more balanced and “true” point of view than Daisey’s original performance.  The historical portion of the performance also gave validity to the overall performance, as it presented facts easily accessible from other sources, rather than purely personal anecdotes where we have to take the speaker at their word.  When questionable anecdotes were used, there was a break in the performance to clarify or question the truth of the speaker’s remarks.

The performance stressed that we should always know where our products come from and should investigate the origin ourselves.  It is important to note the difference between theater and journalism and fact and fiction.  The play raises interesting questions as to what is true versus what is untrue and how can we know the difference.  I think that the play took a good approach in providing many different ways of presenting the information.  It included personal anecdotes from both Daisey’s and Bucknell students’ trips to China, interviews with Steve Jobs, historical facts on Apple and the state of China, clips from the retraction of Daisey’s article and others.  These gave the presentation more credibility, even though it was very clearly presented as theater rather than journalism, giving the audience very informational and moving entertainment.

Will an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?


As I sat and watched Bucknell’s version of “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” I appreciated the way Bucknell approached the story. I mentioned in my earlier blog that I felt that Daisey was wrong to misrepresent his story as fact and that readers should be more aware of the source of their information. I thought the play did a good job of differentiating between what was fact and what was artistic expression or opinion. I also really enjoyed how the history of Apply was intertwined with the Daisey story. I felt like this gave the listener a better understanding of why Apple does business the way it does and also showed the cracks in Daisey’s story.

I thought it was very interesting to see how the play represented Apple. “Being in love with Apple is like being in love with heartbreak.” The play did a good job of exposing Apple for the enigma it really is in the business world. The play makes mention of how Apple tells its consumers what they should want and when they should want it. The example with the iPod mini and nano really made me think about how Apple treats its consumers. Apple has created a cult of followers, considered almost a religion to many but as the play points out, “thats a problem for any religion, when you start to think.” This play really made me think about Apple and its practices, not only in China but how it treats its consumers all over the world.

By chelsealodato Posted in Blog 4

Aiding a Cause or Causing Agony?


The end of the play was my favorite part. The professor’s real life experience in China was enlightening. I liked her description of the jobs as being mundane and boring but not in horrible conditions. When she says that, “value judgment isn’t as simple as it seems at first,” I truly thought about my reaction to our original introduction to Daisey. I could not believe the conditions people worked in and that we accepted it by buying these products. But the realization that people know what the working conditions are like before accepting jobs and willingly working in these factories makes a bit different. It’s still not completely fair or right, but the jobs in these factories give workers their well-being. It’s hard to know where to draw the line between being forced to work and working willingly when conditions are bad. In a way, these people are forced to work in order to sustain their lives and the lives of their families and factory jobs are the only ones they can get. On the other hand, they apply for and accept these jobs that happen to bring us these great products. I have a hard time deciding whether or not buying the product is buying into a belief that it is okay and we are just giving people jobs or if it is in fact our consumerism that is adding to a horrible world practice. The professor in the play helped me to lean toward the former with her statement of economic purpose, but I find myself still hesitant to except either position.

Last semester I worked with a student from China in a group project in which we had to do extensive research on a public company. We chose Gap, Inc. He was very passionate about exposing the child labor scandal Gap had in Indonesia. They apparently were using sweat shops similarly to how Daisey explained Apple to be. So we were interested in asking if he was concerned about similar cases in China. Being from Hong Kong, he did not have any direct connection to the“sweat shop” like factories and seemed more interested in discussing that poor working conditions are not just in China, but all over the world. It was almost as if he was upset China was labeled this way.

un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs


            I really enjoyed Bucknell’s adaption of Mike Daisey’s play they called “”un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” I thought that the combination of Daisey’s original story with the interludes throughout the play was particularly interesting in telling the story of Apple’s history. Although I enjoyed the play, the one thing that bothered me about Bucknell’s play was that I was not entirely sure what they were trying to accomplish with the play. In Daisey’s version it is clear that Daisey was trying to bring to light the working conditions in Foxconn’s factories in China. In Bucknell’s version, there were too many things going on throughout the hour and a half. Was Bucknell’s adaption to tell a more truthful version of Daisey’s story, to point out Daisey’s faults, or to tell the story of Steve Jobs? To me, the fact their play went in so many different directions, it took away from the overall product.

         A friend of mine, Bo Yao, who is a senior at Bucknell, grew up in China and came to the United States for an education. I’ve known him for almost three years but I’ve never actually talked to him about life in China before. So it was interesting to hear what he had to say. One thing that he told me, which was a surprised about, was that the workers in China are starting to get more power. They are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The problem with this though is that many manufacturers are leaving China and moving to Southeast Asia because labor costs are cheaper there. After hearing all the stories about the working conditions in China, it is hard to imagine that there are countries where they are even worse.

What causes are worth our energy (and how does truth fit into this question)?


After watching Bucknell’s Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I contemplate the purpose of theatre. Does theatre exist to bring us closer to ultimate truths? For one reason or another, watching this play, rather than listening to Mike Daisy perform it, changed its meaning. It seems as if, when someone else performs the play (other than Mike Daisy), I question the validity of it because it is not first hand, and therefore I am less upset when the validity of the stories is questioned. Though Mike Daisy, when he speaks of experiences he had, seems to silence questions listeners would have otherwise.

Viewing this theatrical performance caused me to questions the role of truth in plays and performances. All performances serve to elicit meaning from the audience. Often the theatrical element can cause the audience to feel emotional about a topic, and therefore theatre often functions as a “call to action.” How genuine is this “truth” that we experience through our emotional response to theatre?

Another question this play brought up was the attention we give to certain causes. There are so many problems in the world, so how do we decide which to give our attention to? Media publicity leads us to certain problems. Which issues go unnoticed? Sometimes it seems as if there are so many problems in the world; I question where my energy should be placed.

Understanding Chinese Culture


I really enjoyed the performance because it effectively pointed out the lies of Mike Daisey’s story in a creative way. One of the most important issues I realized while watching was that, even though we think we have an idea, most of us Americans really don’t know what it’s like in China. We all use electronics and other products made in China but we often ignore the details of how these products were made, what the factories are like, or how the workers are treated. As the professor said, the issue is not whether or not Mike Daisey lied, but that Americans don’t understand China’s culture. We don’t see that these jobs are sometimes the only way to escape poverty.

A statistic that stood out to me was that 50% of all of the world’s electronics were made at Foxconn. Yet, many Americans have never heard of the city of Shenzhen. It seems ironic that we don’t know anything about a city where a lot of the electronics we use were made. Apple products have become central to many American’s lives that it’s almost like a religion. Still, most people don’t seem to care where these products come from or how they were made because it simply doesn’t matter to them. The fact is, most of us don’t understand what it’s like to live in a country where so many workers are treated so poorly to make products that are shipped off to place that doesn’t care about the manufacturing process.

I do not personally know any students here that are from China, but I think it would be very interesting to hear their perspectives on this issue. As I learned from reading “The Working Poor” for another class, bad working conditions are in all parts of the world, including America. The book pointed out that people who work hard should not be treated as poorly as they often are. I immediately thought of the foxconn workers who seem to be working very hard but not getting rewarded accordingly.

Too Busy To Think


First off, I really enjoyed the play, especially the way they would whistle and freeze the story. It gave the audience a chance to think, and even cast members would ask thought provoking questions to foster audience thought. The monologue drew a perfect picture, and really kept me captivated the whole time. 

As far as truth, I again found myself buying into everything this actor was saying, just as I did with Daisy, because they really do master in the art of storytelling. But, I found that although some of the content was fabricated, that if you find a way to strip the play down to what it really is, I think there is much to learn.  

The narrator stated some powerful statements:

(all following statements are paraphrased)

“China keeps its people too busy to think about things like democracy”

It is important to realize that China is industrializing at a rapid pace, and I think that us post industrialized nations sometimes struggle with putting our head around what it is like there, and how it fundamentally is different. The narrator described Beijing as a “honeybee nest” where everyone is sucked into this industrialization vacuum. There is a mass of population that is instantly sucked into these factories because it is an opportunity to come move to the city. The narrator describes outside of working hours, that these chinese workers were as much individuals as any american, but that their government keeps them too busy to think.  I just think that this shows me the power of the veil that has been thrown over this specific factory worker population. They are brought into the factory work force as a way to a better life, but in reality they are just used as machines. No matter what fabrications may have been told in the story, after talking with my friend Bo Yao, who lives in china but is a student here, I believe that this mass factory working population is being exploited. 

Bo is lucky enough to live in Beijing comfortably, attend school abroad, and he described himself as privileged. But, upon delving deeper into what China looks like from the inside, he did depict a nation that was very economically diverse. He described that there are the affluent families/communities which live in or around cities, but that beyond is another population of chinese people who either live at these factories, or small homes nearby. There was a clear disconnect between these classes. 

There were two things that we talked more in depth on:

-Population

-Industrialization

One thing that is interesting about china is that they are industrializing with a massive population. On one hand, because of this mix, it allows china to produce at staggering paces: everyone knows that. But, coming with this industrialization, means that more and more people will be put into these factories, while the minority will reap the benefits. Bo is lucky to live in Beijing, and has access to the newest technologies and innovations, but the mass factory population will sadly never see the fruits of their labor.

I really enjoyed the play and my conversation with Bo, because what better way to find the truth than to get trusted intel from someone who actually is from China. 

 

 

 

Deceit and the Fallout


How much lying does it take for one to believe their deceit as actual truth? Mike Daisey’s monologue was so believable that it seems as if he truly believes that his words are reality. Bucknell’s own rendition of his monologue casts a shadow over his words, using video breaks in order to display his exaggerations and flat out lies. I specifically enjoyed the Steve Jobs video that involved Foxconn where he states bluntly, “Foxconn is not a sweatshop.” He tells the interviewers that there are restaurants, movie theaters, and swimming pools at Foxconn, far different from Daisey’s dark description of the factory. His addressing of the suicide rate at a working place of 400,000 being less than that it is in America also puts a damper on Daisey’s convoluted words. Daisey’s usage of dramatic pauses during his monologue actually works against him in this rendition, for Bucknell used them to display more truthful facts that he avoided.

This begs the question though, should we completely discredit everything he has said about working conditions in China? Are they exaggerated and should America stop worrying about what they cannot understand? This is where people must look outside of one man’s deceit and see the bigger picture that he was attempting to convey.

Andrew Somers and I interviewed our friend Bo Yao, a Chinese Chemical Engineering Student here at Bucknell. After asking him about the work life in China he had many of the similar stances that Daisey took in his monologue. He says that the working conditions are much worse in China than in the US, and that it is very labor intensive with little job guarantees. The factory shift towards Southeast Asia he states is because of the lower wage requirements in that sector of China. Bo even says that government jobs, although hard to get, are not even that high paying. Health insurance and free traveling are benefits, but it is still not as glamorous as one would believe. Overall, there are obviously labor issues in China that need to be addressed, and Mike Daisey tries to show his listeners that with the powerful usage of verbal imagery. However, his lying has turned people off and the real issues that he wanted people to hear about may not garner the same attention that it should.

How China Feels


At first glance/first listen, Bucknell’s adaptation of “The Agony and ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” seemed extremely similar to Mike Daisy’s performance, but I soon found out that the similarities ran short. In the part “The second coming” I believe that the writers hit Apple spot on. When he says (I am paraphrasing), we are apple, we have exquisite taste, we know better than you about what you want.
Continue reading

Where does the responsibility fall?


After listening/watching to Bucknell’s own adaptation of Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” there are a couple directions in which I would like to take this blog post. Firstly, I would like to comment on the style of the production and some of the key differences between this version and that of Mike Daisey. Overall, I felt that the way in which the show was put on was very effective in that the producers were able to weave in supplementary lessons throughout the show that were very informative. For example, one of the first lessons came from a Chinese professor who spoke about some of the cultural misunderstandings that Americans tend to have about China and its culture. Specifically, he makes an important point about how, although the working conditions are not great, there are thousands of Chinese that jump at the chance to work at a place like FoxConn. So, unlike some may believe, it is not a situation where these people are being forced into these conditions, but rather they are seeking out the chance to get jobs which offer real opportunity. In addition, these periodic pauses throughout the show not only allow us to get more information, but also offer a chance for us to question what Daisey is saying. For example, the show chooses to include an interview of Steve Jobs specifically about this issue so that we can hear the perspective of the accused and therefore have a better chance to form an objective opinion.

Of all of the information pauses/ mini lessons in the production, the one that really stands out in my mind is the one that featured the Civil Engineering Professor who had recently returned from a trip to China. In particular, there were two interesting points that I took away from her discussion with the first having to do with the proliferation of manual labor in China. During her visit, Professor Vigeant had the chance to visit a local printing company in which she learned that manual labor was a pivotal part to its operations. Specifically, the company had a binding machine for the paper, but required that each piece of paper be folded first. Rather than using a machine to do so, the company specifically employs workers to manually fold this paper all day. What’s particularly interesting about this is the fact that the company managers justify this choice because it is so much more cost effective that they are willing to sacrifice the increased efficiency that would come by using a machine. Ultimately, Vigeant then goes onto reveal that manual labor is extremely common in China which shocked me as it seems a little ‘primitive’ for a country that everyone raves about as such a booming industrial nation.

Though a very interesting point, the use of manual labor was not the most though-provoking idea that came from this discussion. For me, the most important point that professor Vigeant makes is her distinction between menial labor and abusive labor. In the case of the paper company, it is quite clear that the physical folding of the paper is extremely boring work, however it should not be considered horrible or abusive work. After hearing this, I felt that it was important to return to this point because so many of us now associate outsourced factory work with images of sweat shops. Clearly, there are way too many places in the world in which labor conditions are terrible, and I do not mean to make a defense for this type of behavior, but I think that it is important to remember that there are many companies in the world that do provide good, suitable conditions for their workers. Though not surprising given the massive media attention that is placed upon those companies that fuel abusive behavior, it is really not fair to group them all together.

Near the end of her speech, professor Vigeant makes another very important point about how we all have a responsibility to know where our products come from. In all honesty, this was the first time I had ever heard someone say this and it instantly got me thinking. Are we all, as consumers, responsible for knowing where every piece of clothing we buy comes from? It’s an interesting idea, but is it realistic for us to be held accountable for this information when all that a tag says is “made in China”? I definitely think that it is important for all of us to recognize that there is a chance that the shirts that we are currently wearing could have been made in a dangerous factory by someone younger than all of us were when we even started thinking about working. However, there is still so much uncertainty out there about which products are made under these conditions and which are not. Ultimately, I think that it is a great idea in theory, but I still believe that it first falls on the companies to raise their awareness of these practices.

FaceTime to China


Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 2.48.18 PMThere must be some oxymoron when you find yourself sitting waiting on your Apple Iphone to FaceTime your Chinese teacher, in China, all the while getting questions prepared to discuss the controversial issues in which this exact device you are currently holding is made in.  Is that wrong?   Is it wrong that I didn’t even think twice about the fact that I’d be using Apple’s products to hold the interview? Continue reading

Bucknell’s Got Talent


The performance was a very good way depicting Mike Daisey’s performance. It also did a interesting job of inflating the story, a way of poking fun of the lies that Daisey created. The performance became confusing at several points but it all was part of the necessary delivery of the play. What I took most from this performance was Professor Zhu’s’ speech. His description of what those jobs meant to those people in China helped me to realize we are looking at everything with a very narrow western lenses. To us, those people are being taken advantage of, which may be true in some parts, but to them, it is a an opportunity to make better for themselves. Isn’t it the same thing as the working poor in America? The people who work the jobs most of us turn our noses up at in order to create a better living for them and their families can equally compared to the work done by those in China. You must really ask how much different is Apple than to the Hilton or these lavish restaurants who use cheap labor to run their business.

Having read this week David Shipler’s: The Working Poor, it opened my eyes to the fact that this is not an issue specifically with just Apple. The overall problem comes from a lack of opportunities for people to advance into better socio-economic conditions. These people in China are essentially forced to accept the conditions and treatment they receive because there is simply no other way for them to make some type of income. While we can blame corporations for exploiting these workers, underneath it all it is still serving some good. I am in no way justifying their actions, but i do understand that without these businesses, many of these families would have much less than they have.

By riley246 Posted in Blog 4

What is the real issue among these lies?


Jasmine-and-Liping-crashThe performance did a good job of depicting Mike Daisey’s performance, pointing out the lies, and also taking it a step further. Although it was confusing at some points in the production when the false statements that Daisey made were repeated, it became clear when the truth was revealed in the next scene.  I liked how different points of views and stories were incorporated however it would have been more powerful if the group made more of a powerful argument. The purpose of the production was a little ambiguous.  It seems like the purpose was to raise awareness of Mike Daisey’s lies as well as incorporate a background story of Apple. The most intriguing part of the production was the ending of the monologue when Bob recommends that Apple should give part of their dividends to their labor workers. I have never considered this, and I think it is a great idea! Apple’s cash levels are so high and the cheap labor in its supply chain would greatly appreciate and benefit from a dividend. Continue reading

Praise Globalization for Problems and Opportunities


Foxconn Shenzhen Plant

Foxconn Shenzhen Plant

On one hand globalization is good because when transnational corporations outsource production, it create opportunities for jobs in developing countries. Yet on the other hand, outsourcing to factories in these developing nations is harmful because many times these laborers are exploited and getting paid next to nothing. In fact the very reason these transnational corporations, such as Nike and Apple, are outsourcing production is to reduce the cost of production. Professor Zhu who has an intrusion in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, does a fantastic job of explaining how China is a nation full of contradictions. Although these working conditions aren’t great, there are still thousands of people waiting at the gates of Foxconn for jobs. Factory jobs offer Chinese people with an opportunity for employment and to escape poverty, at the cost of facing exploitation.

 

Continue reading

The Play We Did- un/real and un/true…


We will have the next blog post due on our regular time- this FRIDAY, Sept 27.  In other words, we have this week off.
Chelsea and Kamal are on the next blog council, so we will meet NEXT week.
As the last Blog Council decided (Chelsea and Maureen and me), we want us all to watch Bucknell’s own production of Mike Daisey’s play, but which we heavily modified, and called “un/real and un/true: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.”
TechNo375
HERE is a link to watch this.  You will need to log in to moodle to see it.
SO, please watch this.  Respond to the play itself, to the changes we made, to what it says about truth, art, and journalism, globalization, China, or any other direction you want to go.
Feel free to use this as a platform for further explorations of all the interesting and meaningful topics that the play provokes.
ALSO, we hope you can use your resources to reach out to someone FROM China.  There are many students here at Bucknell from China.  As best you can, reach out to a person and simply have a human conversation about China and about how China is seen from the outside or inside.  If you can’t do this, you can contact Chelsea Alpert, from our class, who may be able to help through her contacts into China.
Please reply with any questions.
This is all new ground for me and this class, so let’s have fun exploring this.

Blog 2 Council Feedback


Hey Everyone! Welcome to our class’s first blog counsel feedback! We put a lot of time and thought into this with going through each classmates blog, and discussing them with Jordi.  We enjoyed everyone’s ideas and thank you all! We hope this helps you with writing your next blog!

Everyone shared his or her interesting ideas and opinions on blog 2. We were impressed since it was one of the first blogs we have had. However we have a few suggestions for the future.

•            The majority of the titles were “Mr. Daisey and Apple.” Next time try to be more creative with

creating your title to catch the audience’s attention.

•            Try to use media and or images within your post to support your ideas.

•            When commenting, don’t be afraid to use some back and forth commentary to create a

discussion and better understand each other’s ideas.

•            Utilize the “like” button on comments.

•            Add a gravatar to your profile (a picture of yourself!)

While reading through everyone’s post we noticed some common themes and reactions that were mentioned a few times.

•            Feeling a sense of guilt since we purchase and use Apple electronics.

•            Feeling far removed as a consumer and ignoring what happens on the production line.

•            Feeling hopeless and powerless to make a significant change.

•            A continued desire to buy these Apple products.

•            Blaming the culture for these common factory conditions.

•            Surprised the electronics are made by people’s hands, rather than machines.

•            Feelings disconnected from China. We try to avoid the truth of what happens in these factories.

•            Concerns about the high suicide rates, hours, working conditions and worker’s injuries.

•            We felt the podcast was sickening, disgusting, unfathomable, horrifying, graphic and disturbing.

We were shocked and saddened.

While reviewing everyone’s blogs, we also paid attention to commentary.  As stated above, we want the use of commentary to go a little more in depth and begin to stray from the basic, “yes I agree”, “well said” type of comments. A good example is the commentary on John Miller’s blog.

  • Back and forth discussion
  • Challenge the writer, bring up counter facts
  • Ask questions
  • Refine their thinking
  • Rate blogs
  • Thumbs up, or down comments
  • Feel free to add your own thoughts to a classmates comment

Title Winners! We realize this is the first blog, but we went to emphasize creativity on titles.  After reading everyone’s blogs it can become hard to remember who wrote which when they all have the same, or similar titles.  Titles that stood out are:

  • Bridget Wilcoxà The Great Wall of Secrets
  • Kelly Pontecorvoà Conflicting Cultures

Overall winners! These blogs were filled with interesting points of views, eye-catching quotes

  • The first we would like to acknowledge to is Tom Romanowski’sblog. We, blog counsel, really enjoyed the connection made between 1984, a horror film, and Daisey’s monologue.  It was a unique way to looking at the information we were given, and caught our eyes.
  • Next we would like to give a shout out to Chelsea Lodato’s opening paragraph.  We all agreed that it expressed great imagery. She compared the nets at the factories to the nets for acrobats at a circus.
  • We appreciated the question Matt Haller raised since it was thought provoking. “Does our social responsibility stretch to other nations — or have we only developed this care for our own people and land?”
  • Haley’s blog did a great job questioning what our generation has been taught about business. She states “ students, as people who may one day be practitioners in the world of business, should work on defining the purpose of business for ourselves”
  • Chris McCree had some interesting points, one of them being “the aura of Apple makes us believe everything about the company must be great”.

Friedman Freeman Blog


This past summer I interned at CIGNA, which is a multinational health insurance company, in their corporate accounting department. From my experience there, I believe that they very much operate under shareholder management as opposed to stakeholder management. This was probably accentuated because I was working in the accounting and finance department where the bottom-line is the most important thing to them, but nonetheless it seemed to be company wide attitude. During my time there, I was lucky enough to be invited by my boss to a series of meetings with high-level executives where they discussed what special items they needed to disclose in the second quarter earnings release. In the final meeting, the CEO was present and they presented to him what special items they decided to disclose and the only part that he cared about was how everything was worded to look the best for the shareholders.

Milton Friedman would believe that CIGNA is operating socially responsibly because they are using shareholder management, and everything they are doing is to increase their profits within the rules and regulations of their industry. Executives are not acting for themselves by using shareholders’ money to do what they believe is socially responsible.

Mike Daisey This American Life


After listening to Mike Daisey’s monologue on the Foxconn factories in China, there was one comment he made that stood out amongst the rest. It came within the first few minutes of his speech. Like he said, everyone knows that almost all of the technological products that we use in the United States are made in other countries around the world, mostly in China. But that’s about it. Everyone knows that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris or the Coliseum is in Rome, which has no effect on our daily lives, but no one knows where the devices we use constantly throughout every day of our lives originates.  That there is a single city in China that is responsible for manufacturing all the electronics we use daily. In many ways, Shenzhen is one of the most important cities in the world to Americans. Yet the majority of us, including myself, have never heard of it. I am sitting here typing this on my Apple computer with my iPhone right next to me and I had no clue where they actually were made. China is a massive country and to say something is made in China is incredibly vague and almost ignorant. Imagine someone from outside the United States, who is a reasonably educated person, saying that the only thing they know about White House is that it is in America and not that it is in Washington D.C. or it is where the president lives. You would probably look at them a little funny. To me, it is baffling that there is this city that so few have heard that plays such a major part in our lives.

The reason that comment was the most interesting to me from Mike Daisey’s monologue was because I already knew about the working conditions in these sweatshops in China. I do not know for certain, but I feel that most Americans know this as well. I find it hard to believe that there are people in America that think that these workers in China are getting treating like workers in the United States. I mean that is the reason the factories are over there and not here in the United States. Although most people know about these poor working conditions, it is not something that people want to think about. You would go crazy if every time you opened your computer or looked at your phone you thought of all the workers in China that put them together with their bare hands.

Do we care about working conditions abroad?


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At the end of the segment, Ira Glass asked New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg how consumers of Apple products should feel about their Apple purchases. Duhigg’s initial response was that his job as a reporter is to present facts to aid the reader in developing his or her own opinion, but when pressed he revealed that he doesn’t believe that consumers should be satisfied about working conditions abroad. Duhigg explains there have been times in United States’ history when we had poor working conditions. Change was created when we decided, as a nation, that those conditions were unacceptable. In the globalized world we live in, why haven’t we exported our standard of care to stakeholders in other countries?

This is a complex question that is guaranteed to elicit a wide range of answers. America’s highly individualized culture encourages individuals to make decisions based on short term personal benefit. I think the fundamental problem in this age of consumerism is that many people in our globalized world lack concern and care for people who they do not know and the environment that they do not see get destroyed.

Mike Daisy’s monologue, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, humanizes our consumer driven culture through analyzing Apple through the perspective of vulnerable stakeholders, the Chinese workers. While he shouldn’t have categorized his work as journalism, I think his work still deserves attention. I just googled images of working conditions during the American industrial revolution and the result was faces, sad faces. For comparison, I googled images of Chinese industrial working conditions and the result was zoomed out shots of uniformly arranged people, who all looked the same. The fundamental issue is the same in both of these searches (working conditions), and yet we are characterizing those who are affected in very different ways. I can think back to high school history textbooks that explain the industrial revolution working conditions as an awful short term trend that we learned from and have overcome. For one reason or another, we justify Chinese industrial working conditions.

While it is interesting to think about how we developed this disconnected mentality, it’s also important to think about where the information comes from that informs our opinions. Mike Daisy’s semi- fabricated account was based on news articles and second hand stories he had heard about working conditions. He believes these sources to be accurate and based in truth, while others may contest that belief. At this age, so much of what we know comes from other people telling us what they believe to be the truth, rather than the truth that we experience for ourselves. My personal reaction to the issue of working conditions is based on what I perceive working conditions to be like in Asia. I picture the inside of factories through news reports that focus on negative aspects of the impersonal industrial production system, therefore, I think very negatively of them. The media has incentive to exaggerate or fabricate claims (For example, today I heard of a case where a celebrity pulled his car over to help a homeless man, whose belongings who had been scattered across the street. The reporters published stories claiming this celebrity had hit the homeless man with his car.) but companies have incentive to minimize publicity of negative aspects of their business. Unfortunately, businesses are likely to be the ones with the most accurate information, but have incentive to keep information from the public.

Aside

Last week after listening to the podcast “Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory”, I was astounded and even ashamed that an american business icon such as Apple could turn the other cheek to the working conditions in China. I was confused and wondered if as businesspeople, we have a moral obligation to set certain working standards. My reaction was that Apple was almost working with dirty money, stained with the blood of attempted suicides or toxic gases. It really made me sad to think that we as Americans, who should be a model country, would tolerate conditions as told in the podcast. I’m not saying that the government should install these working standards, but contrary that it should be a respected and moral standard amongst businesspeople.

But…..how could I be so un-American.

How is it that I could just listen to a podcast and just believe such foul BS. And what pisses me off more is that it made me lose faith in the country and people that I love.

So that’s my reaction. But really it goes deeper. These fabrications are a threat to an art form that is storytelling. The world has evolved through storytelling, and those in power or those who are willing to lie, know this, and want to write the story of history. This podcast was fabricated because it was an attempt to change the image of the American Businessperson. And, I, and many of you, bought into this untrue story, and for a moment it had the power for me to question the work force that I am about to join next year. Artists for one are storytellers. Whether that is through dance, music, or podcasts, all aim to convey a story with a compelling message that will have an effect on your life. Mike Daisey knew this power of storytelling, and used it to convey an inaccurate depiction of outsourcing, to stir things up. He maybe thought that if he could get away with it, and that if no one questioned his facts, that he could change the whole american view on outsourcing, thus bringing more jobs back to the US. Although he is a liar, I would still like to at least give him enough credit that he did it all in attempt to bring more jobs back to the US….but he would have done so in a negative way through criticizing a world class American company such as Apple, which is twisted.

Here is an example in the past where there was political action taken because of facts that were never actually determined:

“One need not convey only literal facts in order to tell the truth. In Upton Sinclair’s novel ‘The Jungle’ he describes meat packers falling into rendering tanks and being ground, along with animal parts. I do not believe that this occurrence was ever corroborated as fact, and yet this novel moved Teddy Roosevelt to sign the Meat Inspection Act into law.”

 – Paul Lazar, actor, director, co-artistic director “Big Dance Theater”

Link to the article : With ‘Agony’ Fabrications Exposed, Theater Artists React

This quote proves how powerful the art of storytelling can be, and how Daisey, if not questioned, may have been able to effect political decisions such as Upton Sinclair was able to….I’m not calling Sinclaire a liar, because I am from Chicago, and the old meat packing plants from the 20’s were no joke, but you get the point.

Lastly, although Daisey did get ousted for his attempt at manipulating the true story of Apple factories in China, humiliating him, and those who chose to believe him, check this out.

Apple Moves Manufacturing Back to USA, Sets a Good Example For American Industry

Apple is moving more manufacturing back to the US, was it that Daiseys’ voice was still heard through all the controversy. Did Apple, although the conditions weren’t as bad as primarily stated, still take a good hard look at their ethics and working conditions.

I would say no.

I think that Apple is bringing jobs back to the US because they want to prove to America that we can all start to bring jobs back to the US and prosper through it. I genuinely believe that that is the reason that they are moving production back to the US. If Apple does it, then the rest will fall like dominoes. Or at least that is what I choose to believe. I believe that that is the true story that is developing. A comeback for American jobs and the hard working american people not through the use of government trying to create jobs, but that industry leaders will begin to move things back. This is the hope that I have for the workforce that I am entering soon. In the end, if we continue to outsource, in will be the end of us. We can’t continue to only focus on profits at the expense of the American working class. That is whats really going on here, and probably what Daisey wanted to cry out, but instead of doing so boldly and wholeheartedly, he hid behind lies to do so. But, we americans hold ourselves to a higher standard, we are always seeking and striving for the truth, and I think that Apple is leading the way.

Why Would Daisey Lie?

Retraction


My first reaction to listening to the Retraction episode, is that “This American Life” ignored the simple advice/knowledge, that we as students hear over and over again; be careful what you put on the internet or radio because you will never be able to take it back. More specific for this situation, is you must be clear about what kind of information you are presenting to the public. Is it fictional, factual, opinionated? But, as far as Mike Daisey is concerned, he is a performer, he considers what he does as a form of art. Therefore, he can defend his exaggerations and “lies” by saying that he was simply using his artistic license to get his point across. And when confronted on the radio show he does defend himself, he does not consider what he said to be lies. When asked why he did not consider himself a liar for saying that he personally met with hexane poisoned workers he said, “I would say that I wanted to tell a story that captured the totality of my trip. And so when I was building the scene of that meeting, I wanted to have the voice of this thing that had been happening, that everyone had been talking about.” The radio show then goes on to talk about how his monologue has reached so many ears, and how he is now known as a leader in speaking out against apple. Most importantly, how people take his monologue as fact.

In today’s day in age, there is more readily available information than ever before, much of which you can not call fact. Although it is obvious, that is why it always important to check the sources of the information that we read on the internet or hear on the radio. There are probably hundreds of things that I think to be fact, that in reality are not true at all. For example, I recently watched a science video on the internet that talked about common science misconceptions, many of which I believed before viewing the video. Some of the misconceptions are that our blood is blue before it touches oxygen (false), the Brontosaurus existed (false), the far side of the moon is the dark side of the moon (meaning it receives less sunlight) (false), and many others. All this being said, it is often hard to know exactly where the information you are reading/listening to/watching came from, and how reliable it really is. That is why I have learned to take most everything with the proverbial grain of salt. Even when sitting at a lecture or in class at Bucknell, much of the curriculum being taught is affected by each professor’s personal opinions and experiences.

This may seem like a pessimistic way of looking at our world today and the readily available information flying around, but I believe it to be a realistic one. That is why before I formulate an opinion on a particular subject I try to find information about it from multiple sources. There are obviously exceptions to this. Even though I mentioned before that my professor’s curriculum may be effected by their opinions, if I am told in class that Gross Profit Margin is (Revenue-COGS)/Revenue, I will take this as fact without having to find external sources. Finally, I find that it is important to “label” what one says/blogs/writes as either fact/opinion/objective/subjective so that when others come across this information they know exactly what they are being exposed to. And also that if what you claim is indeed fact, that you cite it with a reputable source.

Science video: http://www.wimp.com/sciencemisconceptions/

Daisey’s Retraction: Do we believe what we want to believe?


It was quite surprising listening to the “Retraction” of Mike Daisey’s original podcast about his experience during his visit to China. In the broadcast of “Mr. Daisey and Apple,” Daisey is very persuasive and believable. It is clear from the “Retraction,” however, that he greatly enhanced his stories and stated many lies. By presenting his story as a product of journalism rather than merely a theatrical piece, he deceived thousands of people. His performance was such a strong, dramatic theatrical piece and it made me feel like I was there in China seeing these things with my own eyes.

Maybe it made me feel this way because this is what I wanted to see. Mr. Daisey’s use of theatrics during the original podcast confirmed my previous beliefs and preconceived notions of both China and Apple. This was most likely Mr. Daisey’s main intention: to further persuade China/Apple skeptics that Apple is an unethical company and turns a blind eye when it comes to labor. Moreover, Mr. Daisey further gratified my curiosity, and probably many other peoples’, when he alluded to the eeriness in China. This aspect of China is one that I strongly agree with and even experienced first hand when I visited in 2010.

Although Daisey blatantly lied and exaggerated his story, I still believe that his original podcast is an important piece. It is important to raise awareness about the working conditions in China, although it is difficult to know what is fact and what is fiction in China, ironically the same issue that Daisey faces in his broadcast on The American Life.

Daisey attempted to mold his opinions into real-life experiences and in turn he convinced people to believe his opinions and experiences. As I have stated, I agree with Daisey’s opinions of Apple and China. However, after I listened to both podcasts and learned that his story is untrue, I have realized that maybe other stories and accusations against Apple are untrue as well. Maybe other people, because of their strong opinions…whatever they might be…have created stories and accused Apple of things that are not true. Maybe Apple is not as unethical as people say…

Retraction


Mike Daisey’s guest appearance on the podcast on This American Life, regarding his story about Apple and FoxConn working conditions, and the resulting follow-up “Retraction,” stands out to me as significant wake-up call to the trust placed in those preaching altruistic goals. Mike Daisey wanted to make a difference, and change peoples views about a situation halfway around the world, far removed from America, and the consumers, of the products being made there. By stretching the truth, adding in emotional scenes and providing a compelling narrative about his journey, Mike Daisey’s story seems awfully familiar to another recent scandal, surrounding Greg Mortenson and his novel, Three Cups of Tea. Both men, willing to lie about their experience and fabricate a story directed at first-world citizens, to generate an emotional response for the ‘need to uphold modern values in other countries.’  While Mortenson had his novel put under scrutiny by writer, and former supporter, John Krakauer, in Three Cups of Deceit, undermining his story and calling out claims, Mike Daisey actually came back to This American Life to talk out the issues and explain himself for his misrepresentations.

Daisey stands by his story, the work of theater, and never comes clean about the inconsistencies in his story, and the people he lied about meeting. It is troubling to know that he understood the full weight of his actions, and seemed to hope that the consequences would never catch up to him. While it may have been an error to run the show originally, the intent of having Daisey on This American Life was clear to all parties, and yet Daisey held no regard for the professionalism and truth expected of him. In my opinion this makes him a liar, and an unethical one.

While his show may help provide awareness, and the expectation surrounding a performance at a theater may not be that of journalistic integrity, answering a reporter and detailing parts of the story meant for emotional response in a performance as fact is the ethical equivalent of the people he criticizes. Raising awareness or promoting a cause is an honorable notion, however, lying and selling a story about things that he didn’t experience doesn’t qualify for opinion, or even leave room for interpretation. I almost felt bad for the guy, as he returned again and still tried to defend himself, but he either has convinced himself that the story is true, or has just decided to play Mike Daisey vs the world. He described many events and created many experiences to fit news stories about the subject, and regards his fictional recreation of them as valid experiences, and brings up the question that Mortenson’s debacle did, as to whether or not lying to promote awareness is unethical or simply misguided, and in this case, I believe Mr. Daisy hurt his own cause with his story. He did not experience anything as sensationalist as he claims, and with resources to explore the truth behind the issues in large factories, journalists already exploring any information they can, and companies themselves providing reports, Daisey’s story falls flat. Seeing Mike Daisey as anything more than an actor, or a character, seems to be futile, as he stands behind his actions and insists that from his view, everything’s good, and the rest of us are left to trust in credible sources, and filter out unreliable ones who are stuck in their views, taking everything we hear with a grain of salt, from amateur reporters like Mike Daisey, to large news outlets as well.