Friday, January 20, 2012

The Sad Truth About Your Beloved Electronic Device

Have you ever heard of Foxconn? Probably not. But, as it turns out, everyone of us probably has several devices that was manufactured at one of their three factories. These factories are less like a factory than  a city. They are that big. Said to employ well over 500,000 workers, they produce products for Apple, Dell, Toshiba etc etc. Most major brands have their products built there.

That's not the story though. Yes it's pretty amazing, logistically speaking, that all of that gets done but its the way it gets done that is the story. As seen in this Huffington Post article, the working conditions are appalling. The way the workers are treated is one of the subjects of a one man show in New York by Mike Daisey called "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs". In it he talks of how he went undercover to talk to workers at Foxconn. A special version of part of the show was created especially for NPR's This American Life. The entire one hour program can be heard below.

And although we can't be sure that it was because of Mike Daisey or this report from the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), Apple has started to look into some of the allegations.

Even The Daily Show with John Stewart has commented on it as you can see about 1:30 into this clip from Monday Jan, 16th's show (here is the clip from the US feed on Comedy Central).

I don't know what we can do about this sort of thing but I guess knowing about it is the first step.

Epilogue: as it turns out not everything that Matt Daisey said has turned out to be true. This American Life's latest episode is a retraction pertaining to recent findings about some fabrications made. Here's the transcript and below is the audio.

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