iTruth- Digging Deeper into the Apple Controversy

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.

Meanwhile, when this controversy was emerging, I was on the Bucknell Forum task force about technology, called tech/no.  We had ALREADY been in discussion with Mike Daisey’s agent to perform The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.  What to do?  Proceed with the show, controversy be damned?  Ask Daisey to modify it? Cancel it?  Find a replacement speaker?    Ultimately, the task force opted for something more novel.  We decided to take the script, which Mike Daisey had generously made public under a creative commons license, which allowed for modifications, and produce our own “interrupted version.”


For your post, based on our discussion on Monday, you should pick one of these (links below).

1) Listen to “Retraction” the TAL podcast retracting “Mr. Daisey and Apple.”

2) Watch the Bucknell Forum version of Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

For #1: 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).

For #2: You can watch
The actor is Bucknell Alum, Alex Lyras.  The script is Mike Daisey’s with edits and interruptions by Dr. Bob Gainer (retired professor of theater here),  Dr. Pete Mackey, our VP of Communications, and me, with assistance from BU students Kathleen Lenox, Nick Stetz, and Rachel Iselin-Litt.

Your Task

Once you have consumed #1 or #2 (or both!) , write a post delving into an aspect of you want to address.
Here are just a few questions to consider.  Feel free to write on these or go your own direction.
  • What has Apple or Foxconn done to improve working conditions in factories?
  • Do you like the play?  Would you have done something different?
  • What does it say about Mike Daisey that he made his play available for anyone to perform or modify it?
  • Is Ira Glass of TAL justified in his anger?  Does he over-react?
  • Is art different from journalism?  Which one is about “truth”
  • What do Chinese workers think?  Are they free to complain or advocate for better conditions?
  • Does Apple owe its customers “guilt-free”products?  Is some technology, like blood diamonds mined from war-torn areas of Africa, “bloody”?
  • Are ANY technology makers doing “the right thing” in the life cycle of their products?  Either the making or the disposing of it?
  • Was Mike Daisey an unethical liar?  What, exactly, did he lie about, or not?
  • What is art, journalism, or truth?  Who decides?
  • Is globalization inevitable or “natural”?  Or is it a set of forces and processes that governments, firms, citizens, and others can shape and direct?
  • Are there sterotypes of one kind or another in this story?  Are they unfounded, prejudicial, or harmful?  Are some stereotypes useful or legitimate?

More Relevant Information

Mike Daisey Blog

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

Featured image source:  On Portland newspaper from 2010.


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