Everything is hand made

Update (3/22/2012): This American Life has pulled the episode because Mike Daisey’s story contained a lot of fabrications. The facts of FoxConn weren’t fabricated, but a lot of his personal stories and encounters were. Any statement that starts with “I have seen” is probably suspect and untrue. This original post is left below, because it was a point in time writing based on the impact the episode had on me.

How often do we wish more things were hand made. Oh we talk about that all the time, don’t we. “I wish it was like the old days. I wish things had that human touch.”

But that’s not true. There are more hand made things now then there have ever been in the history of the world.

Everything is hand made. I know, I have been there, I have seen the workers laying in parts thinner than a human hair, one after another, after another.

Everything is hand made.

This American Life has an incredible show this past week, an adaptation of Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” for the radio. It’s the story of his trip to Shenzhen, to find the origin of his iPhone.

The story is amazing. The story telling is amazing. And the questions it raises about what it means to be a part of the global economy, are interesting and thought provoking.

If you’ve ever owned anything that has “Made in China” stamped on it, you should listen to Mr Daisey and The Apple Factory.

2 thoughts on “Everything is hand made”

  1. The audio for “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” has had more downloads than any other story on This American Life. However, This American Life has now retracted the story, saying it is untrue, and has removed the audio from its website. An entirely new Episode 460 of This American Life, aired 3/16/2012, explores how the fabrications were discovered (Act 1) and what the true facts are (Act 3). But the most fascinating part for me is Act 2, in which Ira Glass unmercifully interviews Mike Daisey and confronts him with his lies. In a very human moment, Daisey justifies his actions by saying that his story is true as theater, not as journalism.


    1. Yes, I listened to the new episode, and need to post my reflections. At the time of originally writing this post, I, like Ira, believed the personal accounts of Daisey, because they were presented as facts. I do understand there is some wiggle room in the theatre about what is true but because it was contemporary story telling, and presented as fact on TAL, I’m pretty disappointed.


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