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ipad junky

This week was a bit wild and wooly, so my “Monday” post is happening on Thursday at the Oakland airport. But as squeezed as I am for time, I am enough of an iPad junky that when I realized I had left my iPad at home–for a one-day trip to a SCELC board meeting in Riverside–I said to myself, no problem; I’ll swing by my house on the way to SFO.

Then I doublechecked my reservation and realized I was flying out of Oakland…

And I drove back to SF, grabbed my iPad (and with a little wiggle room sealed the deal on my SuperShuttle res from ONT to the hotel and printed a boarding pass… if only to dignify the trip, as if I couldn’t have done that at work), drove back to Oakland, and am now writing this post on said iPad. (Using a Verbatim folding keyboard which has a white case almost identical to a purse I owned in the first grade.)

The guy next to me watched me pull out my iPad, keyboard, and iPhone and said, “That’s a lot of electronics.” “Mmmm-hmmm!” I responded.

But while it is a “lot of electronics,” all of it fits easily in my purse, which also has print copies of The Atlantic and Harper’s for those agonizing minutes during takeoff and landing when I must reenter the analog lifestyle. And beyond its portability, the iPad is its own well-designed perfect universe, as immaculately tempting as a Martha Stewart kitchen.

I’m mindful of the recent press about Apple’s labor practices. The best coverage–which I haven’t seen referenced in the shocked-and-indignant Big Media articles that followed–was the audio essay on This American Life, “Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory.” I listened to it twice, mesmerized and disturbed. I cannot reconcile these perfect, addictive devices with the inhumane practices that produce them. I cannot reconcile my own complacency with the urgency of that story. I don’t know exactly how to proceed. I do know that I can’t turn away.

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  1. Cath Sheard wrote:

    You say you don’t know how to proceed. I totally get that. I think our love of things versus social concern is one of the true ethical dilemmas of this century. Apple. jeans. Sneakers. Coffee. So many good things, so many bad practices.

    But I know even a little action can mean a lot. Do I know what to do? Heck, no! But I am glad you have made me do some research and start thinking.

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink
  2. David Fiander wrote:

    I am mildly amazed that you remember your purse from grade 2.

    The fact that all of that fit into today’s purse reminds me of my mother’s purses from the ’70s, which had roughly the carrying capacity of a medium sized messenger bag.

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  3. Greg wrote:

    “. . .which also has print copies of The Atlantic and Harper’s for those agonizing minutes during takeoff and landing when I must reenter the analog lifestyle. . .”

    That section gave me pause, do we have to live in the digital world 24/7/365.25?

    I spend my work days shuttling between my desktop with employer approved uses and my iPhone where I can connect to the rest of the digital world. (I would love an iPad but cannot afford the price of the device or the cost of a divorce, the iPhone pushed that envelope.) When I go home it is family conversations about everyone’s day, a walk with the dogs, Words with wife (the game), an hour of TV, and then read an analog book until it drops on my face then floor.

    I take the bus to work and read an analog book or meditate or listen to life being played out by fellow passengers.

    Which is better, digital or analog?


    Thanks for the spot to let me ramble and for the thought provoking musings you post.

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  4. For better or worse, my iPad has become my reader for any book, magazine, or newspaper i typically read that is available that way. the convenience factor, portability, backlighting, and especially font flexibility have pushed me in that direction.

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  5. This isn’t even a super-purse, though it’s not a teensy clutch. I do drag stuff around!

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  6. Norm Benson wrote:


    There are two things I think you should look at the first is a Forbes graphic:

    The second is the article and the comments in a Guardian article:

    As far as digital or paper. Paper lasts longer than technology (which always has to be updated–I have the same textbooks from 40 years ago but I am on my 10th computer–an Apple iMac).

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  7. paper DOES last longer and therein lies the rub. When I’m done with magazines, newspapers, and most books, I then have a deacquisition problem.

    Friday, February 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  8. Hamranhansenhansen wrote:

    Paper doesn’t last longer. It gets destroyed in fire or water or entombed on a shelf or in a box. If you add a book or magazine or music album to your iPad, it will be with you for life. The entire software setup is part of your iCloud account, which is stored by Apple with many redundancies. Yes, you have to replace the iPad hardware every 2-3 years, but the hardware is only a case for all the digital stuff you keep in your iPad. A week after you get a new iPad, you forget it is not the same iPad you have always had, because the part you interact with is the same — your apps, documents, accounts, books, albums. Everything you buy essentially becomes part of your iPad forever, and you end up using it much more. It’s an infinite book. The storage and bandwidth will get larger over time.

    Also: 99% of all paper books are out of print. They can be published as iBooks with full fidelity and the number of books we will have access to will soar. That is a second way digital lasts longer.

    The Mike Daisey story was false. Assembling iPhones is not an easy job, but neither is Pennsylvania coal miner. Assembling iPhones is a legitimate factory job, not a hellhole. And there are many hellholes worldwide. But they don’t make sexy iPhones, so they don’t get as much coverage. Apple is a leader in every aspect of their supply chain, including working conditions. All the other stuff you own from China — that, we don’t know about. Could be prison labor. Especially the disposable Wal-Mart stuff. That is not a long-term stable business like iPhone, with factories that run for years at a time.

    Americans who are concerned about poor working conditions can do something to improve working conditions in their own country. If you raise the ceiling for workers in your own country, that is like a dare for other countries to meet that standard in their own labor laws. But the problem is, many US workers don’t have health care, while Chinese workers do. Many US workers have no infrastructure under them at all — for example, many farm workers. The US also has prison labor, as well as the world’s largest population of prisoners, by far, which started in the 1980′s. So the US is not a leader in working conditions and labor rights. We are not even on the right side of Amnesty International.

    So basically, the solution to guilt that you might have due to the working conditions of factory workers who made all your stuff (not just your iPad) is to use your iPad to improve working conditions in your country and that will improve them abroad. At least, find out who you can vote for who is working on behalf of working people. Any iPad user can write and blog and even create a short documentary with no other tools. You can use it to change the world for the better.

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. Free Range Librarian › Heartsick on Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    [...] — donning my writer’s hat — could compose my thoughts about the discovery that Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory is composed of lies, damn lies, and even more [...]

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