I wasn't crying for the man himself, who I hardly knew. Sure, we had the occasional lunch where he'd seek my advice on launching new products. (Kidding! It was only breakfast.) But I was tearing up over the end of the Steve Jobs era that I was a part of.
Of Jobs' many talents, the most notable was his ability to make consumers feel they were a part of something larger than... well, consuming.
Jobs imbued Apple lovers with the sense they were part of a social movement. And that Jobs himself was their visionary leader -- a leader they knew, and cared about, personally.
If you google Steve Jobs you'll read all about how this genius started, not just a company, but a revolution. And he was a revolutionary: Jobs revolutionized the field of marketing.
In his Think Different ad, ("here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels") Jobs linked buying Apple products to both acts of transgression (by using images of people like Jimi Hendrix), and to acts of social protest (by using images of folks like Mahatma Gandhi).
As I've covered tech over the past couple years and consumed the never-ending stream of glowing Steve Jobs profiles, I began to feel like people genuinely felt that what was good for Jobs was good for the world. And somehow, no matter how much Apple stock rose, Jobs maintained his image as the scrappy underdog fighting the corporate machine.
My colleague Kevin Ferguson sent me the following email today:
A friend of mine in SF pointed this out: "Half this city is protesting corporate greed while the other half is mourning the death of a corporate juggernaut." How many people in that crowd posted Jobs tributes on FB and Twitter yesterday?
Ah, but that was the genius of Jobs. He made you feel that to buy an Apple product was to protest corporate greed. Read More...
Yes. Kind of. Well, it depends on how you define victory. Says military analyst, Dr. Andrew Exum, who led troops in Afghanistan and was an adviser to General McChrystal. He acknowledges the circular nature of the conflict there... Read More...
He sent the song around to his friends. Not much happened. "It topped out at around 1,000" Wittman says.
A month and a half later he made the video. It blew up. "It speaks to how we consume things these days," Wittman says. "The video component drove it in this viral way that didn't even come close to happening with the MP3."
And now, according to Wittman, Whole Foods wants to feature the video on their website and Ryan Seacrest already has.
Wittman says he wrote the song after picking up the list (that's in the song) to make dinner for his fiancé. He was frustrated and getting ready to honk the horn at someone and he thought "what am I doing? This is crazy!"
But maybe the real take-away here is how aggressive Prius drivers are getting -- pulling up, to quote South Park, in their clouds of smug. As a Prius driver myself (ouch) I've noticed the Prii (that's plural for Prius) are going rogue.
Could this video kick off an anti-Prius meme? Only time will tell. But one thing's for sure -- on the web, we love to watch!
(Here's an audio interview, where Wittman talks about the virtues of quinoa and more...but then, who cares about audio?)
The same might be said about the Chromebook coming out June 15th. It costs about the same and doesn't add much to what you can already do on your computer. But nevertheless the Chromebook does truly overhaul our whole notion of personal computing in a way the iPad hasn't. In Google's New World Order, software and personal hard drive space will become a thing of the past. We'll begin to store, work and really think online in the clouds that they (companies like Google) own.
Your personal text documents, family photos and home videos will be connected to a network of worldwide users.
This brings up some troubling questions. First, once we go down this path, there's no going back. The entire notion of private ownership and intellectual property as we've known it will change.
First, as Paddy Hirsh, Marketplace editor and guest on this week's Cyberfrequencies podcast, said about photos on Facebook: It's kind of like a co-ownership. And it seems this same kind of co-owner relationship may be forged between cloud users and cloud owners.
Second, it's very unclear what Google can and cannot do with our information, stored in their clouds, in terms of data-mining. If you hand over everything to Google that formally lived in a private space on your personal computer, then Google gains a very intimate portrait of your personality in a way that even Facebook doesn't have.
Third, if governmental docs start going up into the clouds, like the E.U. is currently talking about doing, doesn't that open up the "clouds" to attack by terrorists, hackers and anyone else who can benefit from state secrets? And don't companies like Google become kind of co-owners with various governments?
The Chromebook, if it catches on, is pushing us to the clouds in a very new way. Which sheds light on Google's free-love attitude toward intellectual property, copyright protection and data ownership on Youtube. Through Youtube, Google has slowly been getting both individuals and businesses comfortable with the idea of a kind of co-ownership of our material.
Both the music and entertainment industries have given up, for the most part, on trying to control what gets posted on Youtube. Now they seem to just add their logo to the media, or a link on how to buy the song, and hope for the best.
I'm a videographer (think large files) with nine external hard drives. I have to house them, dust them off, and most annoying of all -- they continually crap out a few days after the warranty runs out. I'd love nothing more than to dump them in the trash and let my data storage and the tech problems associated with it become Google's headache. I put my finished videos on Youtube anyway -- what's the difference? But I'm just not sure if I'm ready to take part in this giant social experiment with companies like Google and Amazon leading the way. To crib Queena Kim in the podcast cribbing Donald Rumsfeld: "There are a lot of known unknowns." And right now -- that's all we know for sure. Read More...
The official data-grab begin -- who gets to own more of our souls, Google or Facebook?
Isn't it just a little ironic that Facebook hired a PR firm to get journalists to investigate claims of Google's " sweeping violations of user privacy"?
Really, Mark? Really? You're already in the Dickopedia, what more do you want? Still, the ironic lack of self-awareness on Mark's part (I'll use the terms Facebook and Mark interchangeably here) is staggering.
Facebook already owns our firstborn child -- they have him taking his first step, slapping the dog, falling on his ass. So why begrudge Google's appetite for our souls?
In a meeting of journalists at the Facebook office in Palo Alto, someone in the audience asked, "But who owns the content we post on FB?" The official response was, "You do."
Of course you do! In the same way you own the pictures you post on Facebook. They're technically yours, but that doesn't stop FB from using them to sell your friends stuff.
But truthfully Google has so much dirt on us I fully expect them to take over the CIA soon.
And Google's appetite for your info is like a junk food addiction: the more it eats, the hungrier it gets. Like Google's release of its own operating system to run on the Chromebook. There's very little hard-drive space on the laptop because they want you to store your files on their clouds.
And if you store your files on their clouds then you have to seriously wonder who owns that data. And after that you have to seriously wonder who owns you since, these days, we are the sum of our data.
Who's your data now, be-atch?
And it's only getting worse. There are now sites like Voyurl where you get to gawk at people's browsing history with the tagline it's ok to look.
Let's just say I'd rather forget some places I've been on the web, and I certainly don't want others peeking.
And speaking of privacy: never steal a laptop from an 18-year-old tech-savvy entrepreneur.
Mark Bao got his computer stolen and used his "automatic online-backup service to access the hard drive while the thief was dancing."
The thief was doing some goofy wannabe gangster dance that Bao uploaded to YouTube, where it's gotten a million and a half hits. Bao tracked down the thief's email address to tell him of his newfound stardom. Not only did the thief turn in the computer to the cops with a mea culpa, he also begged Bao to "take down the video."
But the video's still up. The thief's not getting his soul back anytime soon.
At friggin' 18 Bao's already created and sold a start-up and been interviewed about it on Fox, where he tactfully declined to say how much he sold it for. (To be a true Silicon Valley entrepreneur, all he has left is to seriously tank a start-up.)
So this will be great for his career!
But as for the dancer... not so much. As one young vlogger said to the thief: "I don't know how you can recover from this, it's Youtube!"
Case in point: Compare the coverage of Foxconn in performer Mike Daisey's one-man show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" with Wired Magazine's treatment of the same subject, which ran as their March cover story. Daisey's show is touring the country -- first in Berkeley, then DC, and running April 22-May 22 in Seattle.
Chances are, the computer you're reading this post on was made in Shenzhen, China. And if it's an Apple, it was made at Foxconn. Shenzhen is a special economic zone where China's already lax labor laws don't apply. Foxconn alone -- just one company in Shenzhen -- makes over half of our electronics.
For his one-man show, Daisey took a reporting trip to the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen to find out how his beloved Apple products were made and talked to hundreds of factory workers. He claims workers lived in 10x12 cement cubes with up to "15 beds stacked up on top of each other." In our radio interview with Daisey, he says he "met a huge number of people with permanent nerve damage," from the toxic chemicals used to clean Apple touch screens, for which there's no compensation.
Now contrast this with Wired's reporting. The feature story doesn't include one quote from an actual Foxconn worker and more surprisingly, the writer downplays actual undercover reports of forced overtime.
For example, the reporter who worked undercover in Foxconn's factory and for nearly a month "experienced dreadful conditions ... churning out iPods, iPads, and iPhones for Apple nonstop." This is according to Gizmodo writer Chris Chang.
Wired is like, really? The Public Relations rep didn't show me those kinds of conditions.
Going out on a limb here, it seems like Wired writer Joel Johnson met with Foxconn PR reps, was given a tour of the "campus" and, armed with lots glossy brochures about the congeniality of life on the "Foxconn campus," wrote his story.
I don't blame Johnson -- he's a gadget reviewer for God's sake! You know the guys whose careers rely on staying in Apple's good graces? It's just troubling that Wired chose to send someone, to write a kind of exposé piece, who gets free swag from the companies he's exposing.
Johnson's not the kind of reporter who's well positioned to take on Apple if he expects to get a first look at the iPad 3 that may or may not come out this fall. His last iPad review was, well, gushing. Johnson seems to see it as progress that Foxconn is opening up company stores where the workers can purchase the gadgets they're making.
Performer Mike Daisey, on the other hand, paints Foxconn and all of Shenzhen as a kind of dystopic experiment in what happens when all restrictions on corporations are lifted. And with the constant drumbeat to deregulate here in the U.S., Americans should watch this "experiment" closely.
Foxconn, Daisey says, sees people as parts of a machine; "when they wear out, we throw them away." He claims someone died working a 32 hour shift while he was in Shenzhen and that that happens "all the time."
The Foxconn "campus," as Johnson calls it, has been dubbed "Foxconn City." It's a manufacturing plant with 300,000 -- to 450,000 workers, according to Wikipedia. Wiki also says it covers about 1.16 square miles and "includes 15 factories, a hospital, bank, grocery store." But scariest of all, it's got its own television network called "Foxconn TV."
Yikes. Just the name alone is creepy -- it would be like having a McDonalds City with a population the size of Atlanta where all your hamburgers are made in forced 32-hour shifts and then shipped. Hey, maybe that day's coming. I can just hear the rationale -- you don't want the price of Happy Meals to go up, do you? That'll hurt the economy! Read More...
Radio producer Jackson Musker thinks Wittkower is overstating the current situation and that in fact the converse is true: we've have put so much of ourselves out into cyberspace we've actually devalued our personal information. Information deflation.
And if Facebook is mining Jackson's data and finds out he likes to play basketball, then tries to sell him new Nike's -- he's okay with that. Pretty soon I guess they'll have his shoe size on file too and just send over the shoes without asking. It'll be like an early Christmas present he'll have to pay for.
But the real question is -- should The Social Network win an Oscar for best picture? A highschooler in the video below says yes and that Zuckerberg is like the oil-barons of the 30's and 40's. Smart kid, in fact I'm going to go friend him right now!
Kurzweil hypothesizes that in 20 years we’ll have computers that can simulate our brains, and ultimately we’ll all be able to upload our brains to the big computer in the sky and, essentially, live forever.
Jaron Lanier, who we’ve had on CyberFrequencies twice in a row now, says that the promise of eternal life has been the tool of charlatans since time began. He’s one of the fathers of virtual reality, and he points out that if you really want someone tinkering with your brain – first demonstrate you can control your privacy settings of Facebook. Good point.
For those of us who will be old geezers by the time the singularity hits -- Kurzweil says we’ll also be able to can reverse the aging process – and in fact you can already do so, he claims, through supplements (which apparently he takes handfuls of every day).
Johanna Blakley, Deputy Director of the Normal Lear Center, is a big fan of Kurzweil and the Singulary. What does she think of reversing the aging process? “Well I read about it all the time in Vogue Magazine, but nothing I’ve ever tried works.”
Watch Kurzweil explain the singularity here:
And now some of those friends say they wonder whether his desperation for acceptance -- or delusions of grandeur -- may have led him to disclose the largest trove of government secrets since the Pentagon Papers.
But on CyberFrequencies this week we interview the man who blew the whistle on the whistle-blower, hacker Adrian Lamo, who claims that many of the key players in the Manning saga are also gay. Lamo calls it a "velvet espionage ring if you will."
Lamo has many interesting things to say, but among the juiciest is speculation that Julian Assange is gay -- along with military contact, who Lamo says is his ex.
So if nearly everyone involved was gay that changes things a bit, right?
For one thing, Hollywood better get an A-list ready of their best metro-sexual actors. I'm thinking Robert Pattinson would have to be in the mix somewhere.
The "velvet espionage ring" portion got cut from the NPR-affiliate KPCC version -- they have a policy of not outing people. But this is clearly SPECULATION my friends. (Or is it just plain gossip?)
So listen to the "director's cut" version here.
We caught up with Chaiken (we didn't really "catch up" with her, I just always wanted to say that because it sounds so Vanity Fair) at her place in LA.
Chaiken is definitely forward thinking in her ideas on the media. She talks about her journey delving into New Media. At first, she discounted fan chatter online but eventually came to believe that it was integral to the success of the L Word. So much so that at times the fans, who made their opinions known on the net, even influenced the show's storyline.
Listen to The L Word interview here. Or you can watch the video below: