Monday, March 5, 2012

On Apple in the Big Apple

"Look at this," my dad said to me recently, pointing to the new digital camera he had purchased. "It's a Japanese camera manufactured in China. What else is new?"

I thought about that frequent lament — that all the manufacturing jobs have left the U.S. and other countries for China — when I saw Mike Daisey perform his theatrical monologue "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" at New York City's Public Theater yesterday afternoon.

For nearly two hours, Daisey sat in a chair on the spare stage to share his love story of all things Apple, and in stark contrast, a riveting account of his visit to Shenzhen, China. In particular, his trip to the massive Foxconn Technology plant, where 430,000 workers toil under inhumane conditions to produce those very cool Apple products, as well as nearly half of all consumer electronics sold throughout the world. (A recent New York Times article corroborated Daisey's diatribe.)

It was sobering, to put it mildly. The iPhone in my bag seemed heavier than usual. As my friend and I sat talking in the theater while the audience streamed out, we wondered what to do with this information. As we made our way out, we were handed a piece of paper. The headline on one side read, "Change is Possible." The other side: "The Rest of the Story Is in Your Hands."

How is this relevant to the meetings industry? Two things come to mind. First, how helpful it is — should you have speaker who will be delivering a message that will likely make attendees want to do something to feel less powerless — to provide some kind of follow-up material.

And secondly, as Convene's latest epanel results (to be published in next month's issue) show, meeting planners have embraced the iPad, like so many other industry professionals and consumers. Nearly a quarter of those responded to the survey use a tablet for work and 32 percent use one for personal use; nearly 80 percent of these tablet users have an iPad. We, too, have a say in this. From Daisey's handout: "Apple has long been a pioneer in technology — now they have the opportunity to lead the entire field into an era of ethical manufacturing. Let's keep pressure on them to do the right thing." Apple CEO Tim Cook's email is

Note: Since I posted this, there's been a bit of a brouhaha about Mike Daisey's performance not being entirely factual. See my updated blog post on this.

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