Posts tagged with ‘gadgets’
Pitifully paid workers, weak environmental policies, supply chains that allow manufacturers to abdicate responsibility. Simon Brew asks: is it even possible to buy ethically sound technology? →
Via PC Pro UK:
In the past, when people have voiced ethical concerns surrounding technology, it’s typically been centred on environmental issues. Such issues, as we’ll see, are still relevant, but it’s increasingly the human consequences of manufacturing technology that are coming under the microscope.
How is the end user supposed to know just how their shiny new product came to be? Do they even care that there’s a sporting chance the manufacturer itself couldn’t tell you where every last component came from? And if they did, how is it possible to have confidence that the product they’ve just bought conforms to any kind of ethical standard? Or do we all just want to buy the cheapest product available?
Is it even possible to buy any technology with a clean conscience, without bankrupting ourselves in the process?
As I post this I think of the phones, laptops, tablets, cameras and assorted gear that allow us to do what we do. I don’t know the answers — and don’t want to use that as an excuse to abdicate the issue — but am glad we’re seeing more tech reporters tackling where our shiny things come from and the consequences of our having them. — Michael
Farhad Manjoo, Slate. Introducing the iFactory: Apple reinvented gadgets. Now it should reinvent how gadgets are manufactured.
Background: Manjoo writes in response to Apple’s incredible last quarter where it recorded the largest profits of any company ever aside from Exxon Mobile in 2008, and the ongoing troubles at Foxconn, one of its Chinese manufactures, where workers recently threatened mass suicide.
Related: “Conflict iPhones,” a new term I hadn’t heard before but something tells me I’ll be hearing more of, eg., “Conflict Gadgets.”
Also related: Foxconn is in the process of automating its factories, believing it can bring on up to a million robots in the next three years to automate the manufacture of phones, tablets, game consoles and the other gadgets we brush up against every day.
They make the world easier and more enjoyable. They boost productivity and provide entertainment and information and sometimes even status. At least for a while. At least until they are obsolete. At least until they are garbage.
Electronics are our talismans that ward off the spiritual vacuum of modernity; gilt in Gorilla Glass and cadmium. And in them we find entertainment in lieu of happiness, and exchanges in lieu of actual connections.
And, oh, I am guilty. I am guilty. I am guilty.
— Mat Honan, Gizmodo, reporting on the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Fever Dream of a Guilt-Ridden Gadget Reporter.
Jonathan Zittrain, Technology Review. The Personal Computer is Dead.
Jonathan Zittrain, whose 2008 book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It explores the transformation of the open Internet to one that’s increasingly closed and controlled, writes that the growth of “App Stores” is putting too much technological and content control in the hands of too few companies.
The companies, Zittrain argues, are gatekeepers that lock us into platforms and the way we access content as they lock other content and technologies out.
"If I switch from iPhone to Android, I can’t take my apps with me, and vice versa," writes Zittrain. "And as content gets funneled through apps, it may mean I can’t take my content, either—or, if I can, it’s only because there’s yet another gatekeeper like Amazon running an app on more than one platform, aggregating content. The potentially suffocating relationship with Apple or Google or Microsoft is freed only by a new suitor like Amazon, which is structurally positioned to do the same thing."
And doing the same thing is to have an “App Store Framework” of their own where they can lock in or lock out applications and content.
"But the fact that apps must routinely face approval masks how extraordinary the situation is," writes Zittrain. "Tech companies are in the business of approving, one by one, the text, images, and sounds that we are permitted to find and experience on our most common portals to the networked world. Why would we possibly want this to be how the world of ideas works, and why would we think that merely having competing tech companies—each of which is empowered to censor—solves the problem?"