a new direction for apple #occupytimcooksemailbox

I finally got over to The Public Theater and caught Mike Daisey’s new monologue, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. The monologue alternates between the life of Steve Jobs and Mike’s own experience visiting the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen, China. He reveals how he pretended to be an American businessman to gain access and observe the atrocities, including child labor, 12-15 hour work days, and nets surrounding the buildings to catch workers attempting suicide. It’s a harrowing tale, and you should check it out before it closes on December 4th. If you’re a user of technology, it will change the way you think about, well…almost everything.

A few days after I saw Mike’s show, I discovered Brad Pitt making this statement about the Occupy Wall Street movement:

“If we were inventing the automobile today, would we invent it on a system that relies on a finite fuel source that pollutes the environment and we have to fight wars for to protect…? It makes no sense for us today. We would develop it like our laptops and our iPads. So, to start questioning…and I think what you’re seeing in America is questioning a system that has not served us very well…”
– Brad Pitt

Clearly, Mr. Pitt does not know how companies make our laptops and iPads. Nor do the majority of Americans. As a country, we take and take, but we rarely ask “where is this coming from?” Mike’s monologue not only challenges us to ask this important question, but it further implores us to examine this meme he’s placed in our minds and do something about it.

As part of Mike’s show, I received a sheet of paper suggesting ways I can make a difference. I’ve done these. I’ve written Apple CEO Tim Cook and asked him to consider shifting how Apple creates its products. I’m waiting until my current mobile device is literally on the precipice of death and my contract with my wireless phone company lapses before buying a new device. This way, I pay as little to these corporations as possible and I minimize the hype surrounding the devices. I’ve educated myself, and I’m telling you. Look beyond the face of your mobile device or computer and try to see the thousands of faces of abused humans who created them.

Mr. Pitt is right about one thing. The Occupy Movement that started down at Occupy Wall Street questions and confronts injustices and imbalances in our system. In light of yesterday’s eviction from Zuccatti Park, I’d like to propose a new place to occupy:
Tim Cook’s email box

This technology is here to stay, but the horrors of Foxconn and other technology producing companies don’t have to. I implore you to look at what Mike shared with me below and find out for yourself.

Mike Daisey, Photograph: Kevin Berne

That lies in your hands. If you choose not to ignore what you’ve learned tonight, here are some concrete steps you can take.

You Can Speak To Apple
Apple’s new CEO is Tim Cook, and his email address is tcook@apple.com. He receives email sent here, and he and others at Apple sometimes respond. Don’t abuse this email address. Please be firm, polite, resolute, and clearheaded. Cook made his name at Apple by establishing Apple’s supply chain in Southern China as it exists today – everything you’ve heard about tonight springs from initiatives he spearheaded in his years as Apple’s COO.  You can expect him to tell you about Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Report, a document written without any independent verification or oversight whose accuracy has been contested by a number of human rights organizations. Ask Cook to take the lead – Apple could be the first electronics manufacturer to allow independent, outside verification of working conditions in factories. They could reform, and in doing so begin a revolution in working conditions for millions of people.

You Can Think Different About Upgrading
When Apple releases their next amazing device, you can ask yourself if you really need to upgrade immediately. Instead of pumping money and support into the electronics industries, you can step back and try to only upgrade when it is truly needed, and drain some of the mania out of our endless upgrade cycle. Choosing not to participate is not only ethically defensible, but economically sensible—we pay huge premiums to buy brand-new technology at the moment it is released, and for many users it would save money if they weighed the human cost of each piece of technology, and became more stringent in their purchasing. You can push back.

You Can Connect and Educate Yourself
Like the beginnings of many movements, awareness counts. Making people aware of labor conditions in China, and the systems we’ve created to feed it, is an ongoing process. Organizations like China Labor Watch (chinalaborwatch.org) and SACOM (sacom.hk) work to track and hold accountable our largest corporations which routinely abuse, poison, and exploit China’s people to make electronics. Apple is hardly alone—every major electronics manufacturer uses the same inhumane labor practices in the creation of their products. We are advocating for pressuring Apple specifically because they are industry leaders, but some may wish to call Nokia, Dell, Samsung, LG, Motorola and others.

You Can Tell Others
This is a monologue—a single voice telling a story of a single experience. But if I have opened a door for you, consider opening a door for others. We do not like to think about our relationship with China and the true cost of our labor, but that silence can only exist if we are complicit with it. Talking about it, thinking about it when making purchasing decisions, and understanding it is not just symbolic. In world of silence, speaking itself is action. It can be the first seeds of actual change. Do not be afraid to plant them.

Spread the virus,

social media (marketing)

My girl just sent this to me…it’s a tight, if irreverent breakdown of social media (marketing) What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later

Also, last night I attended the Off Off Community Dish and heard Dave Charest talk some on this subject. He introduced me to Hoot Suite, which I’ve allowed to absorb most of my day (when not playing with my nephew).

The one thing that is very clear is that social media takes up a lot of time. I find myself having a very love/hate relationship with it. I’m fascinated by the beast with 1,000,000,000 eyes and mouths, but it’s really terrifying. If it’s helpful to create awareness of the work I do, I’m all for it, and it’s certainly not a waste of time.

Still, going to the beach without the computer or turning off the phone during a meal with my love seems to make me happiest. It’s all about balance, right? Not too much of one thing or too little of another. I mean, if all you eat are carrots, your skin’ll turn orange.

communication breakdown

Texting. Cool toy. Not cool for communications. I really don’t like it. It’s fun for a quick “hello” or a “miss ya, sexy,” but when it comes down to real communication, I can’t stand it. People use it instead of actually picking up the telephone and talking to me. Either that is actually how they communicate all the time, or it’s a way of telling me what they want without having to really ask. Texting is the passive aggressive person’s dream!

I see a lot of people using email like this, too. They’ll email something very important to me because they are afraid of how I’m going to react. I recently had a woman tell me she didn’t want to see me anymore this way. (Too, a friend just relayed a story where he told a woman that he wasn’t going to continue pursuing their relationship over a text message!) Last month, a guy quit a very important job under my employment four days before he was to execute the job by sending me an email at 2am. I’m assuming, after a few beers and a couple tokes, this joker got the courage to sit down and pour out his heart as to why he was in a “bad headspace” and couldn’t keep up “the charade” any longer. Now, sure, I know you’re suppose to give a letter of resignation, but when it is four days before you are going into production on a huge show, have the courage to call me and talk to me yourself. Maybe we can work it out. At least, then, I wouldn’t think you were a coward.

I, myself, just ended my association with a job, and I called. I got a voice mail. I left a message on the voice mail, telling my superior that I wouldn’t be returning to work in the fall, spelling out important personal reasons for my departure, and if he wants to talk to me about it further, he can call me. I haven’t heard from him. Perhaps, I shouldn’t have left the information on the voice mail, but at least, I had the courage to actually call and risk talking to the guy. If it’s my luck that he didn’t pick up, then that’s how the cards fell. Plus, I told him to call me, if he wants to discuss it. He didn’t call, and I don’t believe he will. That’s his choice. Still, to quit a job or break up with someone over email or texting is lame.

A few months back, I heard that Mariah Carey’s manager, Benny Medina, eliminated his email as a form of communication. He said, “Generally, E-mail ends up as a form of communication that can go completely unanswered, with people thinking they’ve followed up on an outstanding issue when they haven’t, and it’s bad at communicating a feeling or an emotion.”

Personally, I like it when people take the time to write complete letters in email, starting with a traditional “Dear…” and ending with some sort of proper sign off – at least a “Thanks,” but often, people will just start typing thoughts in fragments and run on sentences, ending with the initial of their first name. I’ve done this too (for those of you out there reading this who’ve received these kinds of emails from me), but I’m just saying I pay more attention to the proper letters that are written to me. They feel like they are more important somehow. They feel like you care about what you’re writing and the person to whom you’re writing.

I’m not out to crusade for change on how people email and text. They are new forms of communicating, and, I’m sure, like television, radio and the telephone itself, they will evolve into something I cannot even imagine at this point. Hell, as I write this in Microsoft Word, I look back to the word “texting” and it’s underlined in red, indicating that it is misspelled or not a word. That’s how new texting is. It isn’t even considered a word.

I could also explore how the English language is being completely transformed by short hand like LOL and WTF. However, there are linguists out there who are writing many great studies about this subject far better than my brief thoughts, and I encourage you to seek them out. All I’m looking for is some proper communication. When you have something important to say to someone, whether business or personal, say it. Don’t cower behind your Blackberry and tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore, and certainly don’t quit a job via AOL because you’re afraid of the heat. If there’s heat, then there’s usually a reason for the heat. Take it the heat, and learn from it. More often than not, though, you’ll be surprised. People are far more understanding than given credit, and if they do not understand, they don’t need to be in your life anyway.