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.

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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.

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.

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

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

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.

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/

Response to “Retraction”


My first reaction to “Retraction” was frustration because I couldn’t believe that I listened to Mike Daisey’s entire monologue without even thinking if he could be lying or not. I assumed that since he was talking about his personal experiences that the things he was saying were true. Now, after discovering the numerous lies Daisey told, I realize that I shouldn’t be surprised. Daisey’s monologue was not journalism; it was purely his attempt of being entertaining. In this case, it seems as though Daisey is nothing more than an actor since so much of his story was found out to be false.

At one point in “Retraction,” Daisey apologizes. In my opinion, he also owes an apology to Apple. Although we know that there are poor working conditions at factories that produce Apple products, the content in Daisey’s monologue was clearly exaggerated. With a high volume of listeners, I would assume that many of these listeners had a worsened image of Apple as a company after hearing Daisey’s story. This effect isn’t fair to Apple, considering many of the issues presented were exaggerated or made up altogether. This makes me wonder if Daisey had other motives besides just trying to put on a show and be entertaining.

It was disturbing for me to hear how many of the ideas presented were actually lies. I don’t understand why Daisey felt the need to tell a completely different story compared to what he actually experienced. When asked questions about his lies, he took a while to answer and when he finally answered, he didn’t seem confident in what he was saying. Could he have lied in that interview as well? Although he admits to his lies, he still tries to explain himself and stand behind his story. In my eyes, Daisey lost all credibility and nothing he says should be trusted. People tend to believe others who are talking about personal experiences, but it is probably wise to look out for people who might have other motives and could be lying or exaggerating the truth.

In Journalism, Opinions Can’t be Facts


The retraction of Dasiey’s article was very surprising. When someone is reporting statistics that are extreme and frightening, it is hard to believe that they would take matters of fact into their own hands. The worst part about such a moving article presenting incorrect facts is that now, the public cannot truly appreciate and believe all the information they previously absorbed. It is hard to realize what was true and what was false and to have faith in any of the information Daisey presented. It was especially inappropriate for Dasiey to present such false facts on a public news station acting as a journalist. When he was asked to present the piece on such a station, he gave up the right to formulate his own story rather than present the public with true and factual information.

I was partially sympathetic to his explanation of “shaping” the story. He wanted to raise awareness of the horrific conditions of Chinese factories by including all the shocking anecdotes he heard from factory workers. Even though he had not personally spoke to those affected by the Hexane gas, for example, he wanted to spread awareness that issues like that exist. Unfortunately, he added such extreme aspects to the story that were untrue for anywhere in China, not just at Foxconn. With allegations of guns at the gate and underage workers that were confirmed as false, the shock factor of most of his story vanishes. Yes the conditions are poor and the pay is terrible, but these facts are known. The discussions with workers did not reveal much more information than we have already heard. Daisey needed to add a theatrical value to the piece that just could not be corroborated.

Perhaps the worst part of the retraction was Dasiey’s admittance to being fearful of the truth being found out. He lied about his translator and did not allow for all facts to be checked out by a news station. Daisey did not let them do their job: report accurate news to the public.  It is even worse that he says at some point he wished the story was pulled. Daisey knew that it was wrong for this story to be heard but he also feared people looking into his facts. Any notability he would have as a journalist would be, and now is, gone.

It is important in analyzing his original post and his retraction to realize that opinions are valuable and deserve to be heard, but opinions loose credibility when lies are twisted in. Thinking workers are young is different than blatantly stating their ages and thinking the guards are intimidating is different than stating that they are deadly. Yes, most of what Daisey said is true in a sense. He was trying to formulate truth by mixing stories and details from multiple sources. Where he went wrong was including details that do not exist anywhere. He betrayed the trust of his translator, his employers and the public that listened in to his story. Journalism is an art form – using news to captivate an audience, but the art is lost when one cannot make the truth captivating and instead lies to enhance a story.

George R. R. Martin Eat Your Heart Out


Mike Daisey has provided me with one of the best pieces of fiction I have heard in a while. In part with my obsession of Game of Thrones, I hope HBO takes his monologue  and produces it into 7 part series.  All of my quips aside, the retraction is another example of why it is important to take information reported by media agencies with a grain of salt. We were all moved and down right appalled by what we heard Mr. Daisey describe last week about the conditions these workers lived in and how they were treated. But how many of us really took the time to look for the true story of if this all happened? We believed his account because, well, he sounded sincere, and honest, and passionate and it seemed like such a tragedy, much like the Red Wedding (another Game of Throne Reference btw). Whatever it was, it begs to question, what are the falsities we encounter in daily media sources?

I think there is a greater point to look at here. MIke Daisey is not a reporter. Rather, he is an actor, author, and monologist. For him, prize is all about the captivation of his audience. Yeah sure he could have recounted the true nature of his events and given us the actually picture of what happened. But where is the captivation in this? Needless to say, much faults falls on The American Life to thoroughly examine what Mr. Daisey was going to say and check in on the validity of this story. If you ask a crook if he is a crook, chances are, his answer is going to be no. When asking Daisey to get in contact with his source, especially on a subject so saturated with controversy given the public name of Apple, you might want to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.  It would have been less of a public embarrassment to have taken the 2-3 weeks to check in on the validity of Mr. Daisey’s sources. Especially when it is usually company policiy to have some one from The American Life along to ensure the validity of a story.

With this said, next time before we part ways with one of our products because of a “groundbreaking” report, we should look to see if it even scratches the surface. In today’s age of being technology flooded, a little research shouldn’t command to much on us. We cannot allow someone’s opinion to shape and mold our perception of the truth without having the full picture. For most, we can hope those who report news and information are like the Lannister, and stays true to their word.

“Retraction” Response


Listening to Mike Daisey’s interview in the “Retraction” episode was one of the most frustrating academic experiences I have ever faced. I say “academic” because when I listened to the original podcast; I took everything I heard as truth and as educational rather than entertainment. I feel tricked and manipulated. I want to blame myself for trusting a self-proclaimed entertainer to deliver a journalistic message about a topic he is trying draw attention to, but for some reason I cannot. Like Ira from This American Life said, Daisey portrayed his monologue as truth.

For me, you cannot use entertainment as a forum to send a message to your audience. If I go watch a standup comedian, I am not expecting all the stories they tell for their jokes to have actually have happened. As long as I am entertained, I’m happy. There is no underlying serious message that they are trying to get across to the audience. They are simply trying to make them laugh. So for Daisey to use the excuse that his monologue is theatre, a form of entertainment, as an excuse for his lies is absurd.  I understand that he wanted to evoke a lot of emotion to make people care about the working conditions in factories in China, but the lies discredit any truth that his monologue contains.

This whole experience will make me more wary of any opinion pieces I read or listen to in the future. It will also help me to pay attention to the details of an argument and identify clues to question the accuracy of pieces. When the producers of This American Life mentioned the parts of Daisey’s monologue that drew their attention to question the accuracy of it were parts that did not even register with me initially, but when looking back when the brought them up did seem a little odd.

Mike Daisey Retraction


The retraction of Mike Daisey’s story about the terrible conditions at the Foxconn plant shows the importance of fact-checking in the world of journalism.  Daisey was able to manipulate his listeners into thinking that Apple was an evil company that forced its suppliers into terrible working conditions – or at least did nothing to stop them from occurring.  Daisey exaggerated and even fabricated parts of his story to influence the opinions of his listeners to fit his impression of Foxconn and Apple.  The graphic and descriptive nature of his story was so realistic that we all believed it to be true without looking at other sources to verify the facts behind his experiences.

While I am disappointed that Daisey’s story is fabricated, I cannot say that I am completely surprised.  Some of his anecdotes appeared to be stretched to the point where they were hard to believe he accomplished in a few days time, such as talking to “hundreds of workers” outside of the Foxconn gates; however, we believed them because they were on the news and were told in a manner so descriptive that there was an impression that these anecdotes couldn’t possibly be fabricated.  This retraction shows that we cannot always believe what we are told, even if it appears to come from a credible news source.  Facts can be twisted, exaggerated, or in this case, fabricated, to present a particular view of the person presenting the information.

This retraction shows that it is important to look at multiple sources when forming an opinion.  A simple Google search “Mike Daisey Foxconn” fills the first page with articles saying that the story was fabricated.  I personally feel foolish that I did not look into this or other sources regarding the reporting of Daisey’s story, but it shows that myself and others are quick to believe what is told to us without consulting other sources to verify the merits of a particular story.  This argument can be expanded to the news media that try to use facts in a certain context to spin news their way.  Whatever the story, it is important to have the facts straight before forming an opinion.

iTruth: tech, art, ethics, media, and the world of our devices… (Blog 3)


Blog 3 Prompt

Post DUE SUNDAY.  COMMENTS MONDAY.

What is truth?  Lies?  Who gets to decide?

Montage of Daisey and Jobs from New York Magazine

Now things get complicated.  You heard This American Life’s podcast focusing on Mike Daisey’s monologue-play and the issues it raises about Apple, China, worker rights, us as consumers, and globalization.

There is a reason I had you listen to that bootleg version.  TAL scrubbed the podcast from its website and released “Retraction” in which they devoted a full hour to “retracting” the original podcast.

Was Mike Daisey an unethical liar?  What, exactly, did he lie about, or not?  What is art, journalism, or truth?  Who decides?  These are some of the questions this new chapter in the story presents.

Please listen now to “Retraction.”  You can do so on-line here, or you can get it through iTunes or other distributor like Amazon.  There is even a TAL app (iphone and droid).

In your post, discuss any issue the “Retraction” episode brings to mind.   Be sure to include any links to other resources, media, or photographs.  Write clearly, but also in your own voice.  Please also discuss how your reaction is shaped by the information to which you have access and what that access says about truth, objective “facts” versus “opinions,” lies, meaning, knowledge, and any other aspect of these events that relates to how we know what we know (formally called epistemology- the study of knowing).

Your post should be at least three paragraphs.

More Relevant Information

Mike Daisey Blog

Bucknell’s tech/no performance of the interrupted monologue (Fall 2012).

Original and Revised scripts (for free!) from Mike Daisey.

Mr. Daisey and Apple


Although I’ve previously learned about the poor working conditions in China as it relates to manufacturing Apple products, this monologue provided personal experiences of the workers, which really opened my eyes to how unfair such practices are. As an owner of a MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone, listening to how miserable the working conditions are for the people who make these products saddened me. It seems as though everyone I know has at least one Apple product. I love using Apple products but I am now thinking twice about what it means to support a company that treats its workers so poorly.

Some of the statistics mentioned were horrifying. People working up to 16 hours a day, people getting injured on the job and then fired for being slow, and the high suicide rate were just some of the disturbing facts that really caught my ear. Also, the fact that the electronics are all put together by hand was shocking to me. I would have thought that machines played a bigger role in the process. Another shocking part was when the man who worked with iPads had never even seen one on.

The line that stood out to me the most was when Mike said, “Do you really think Apple doesn’t know? A company obsessed with the details? Or do they do what everyone else is doing, do they just see what they want to see?” It seems to me that many people only see what they want to see when using products that were made in the factories like the ones described in the monologue. No one is willing to give up their iPhone because of working conditions in China that don’t affect them personally. I feel as though many people are ignorant to the facts of what really goes on in factories such as Foxconn because they are not personally being harmed. This shouldn’t change the fact that the way these workers are getting treated is extremely unjust.

Conflicting Cultures?


I enjoy watching documentaries and since I have began watching these quick 50 minute informative videos, I have seen quite a few on factories like the one Mike Daisey discusses. Yet this monologue was still striking even though I expected to hear things I have already heard. One thing that stood out to me was his discovery of handmade electronics. Daisey elaborates on finding this out by discussing how so many of us wish things were handmade or had the personal touch that they used to. To think the devices that we use to prevent personal interaction; the devices that give us the ability to find any amount of information without any effort are put together by human hands. Not machines, not computers. Our high-tech computers are not constructed by a higher technology, but by uneducated people. I am completely fascinated by this. All the technology in the world and bare hands built my iPhone and MacBook Pro. And then to think how much money these things cost and think back to how each factory must look. I can only infer from other videos I have watched but I cannot imagine the working conditions are good nor is the pay. Daisey said they are not even allowed to speak in a 12 hour shift!

Later, he and his translator discuss the possibility of the workers being mentally ill. I thought I might agree with that statement but after really thinking about it I do not it is illness, but the culture. The culture is almost unfathomable – that workplaces like this are so common and people work and live in silence regarding such horrific lifestyles.

The piece of the story that struck me the most was when his translator said, “you hear stories, but you do not think it is going to be so much.” That line perfectly summed up my reaction to this piece. I had seen documentaries about slave-like factory workers and have read about them for other ethics courses, but every time I watch or read, something new sticks out to me. Like the handmade electronics and forced silence I heard about from Daisey. I am always shocked that places like this exist and that even with all the media attention given them, the conditions never seem to improve. It has become just as common to hear about a factory like this as it is to buy an iPhone, yet nobody stops buying them. I feel hopeless listening to this feeling like I cannot help, nor have I considering I have a Mac and an iPhone. So does my mom, dad, sisters, and almost all of my friends. I know I will buy the next one too. I would love to say that won’t, but I want to. Even after listening to that piece. Yet I do not feel like a bad person. That is just our culture. I said their culture is unfathomable, but it seems like ours might not be much better.