I’m actually surprised to see the way major media outlets — The New York Times, the BBC, and others — have rabidly covered the “news” about a new iPod/cellphone hybrid. I have no issues with iPods or cellphones and use both items, like a lot of people with the means to do so. But once again, we’re faced with a tear in the fabric of reporting what’s actually happening in the world and the need to “report” the content of Apple’s PR statements.
Every time Apple comes out with a product the release is treated as newsworthy. The items are technically filed under “Technology,” but they always seem to find themselves on the homepages of major news outlets. Again, I use Apple products and, for the most part, like them, but this is a case of Apple convincing writers and consumers that it is something more than a computer company, that it represents a social revolution of some kind. Remember those “Think Different” ads featuring Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peace/revolutionary types? Well, Apple, isn’t revolutionary, and it won’t make the world more peaceful. It will continue to give us cool gadgets and a great computing experience, but that’s all. The “Mac faithful,” as some call them, treat the company with reverence usually reserved for, um, actual political revolutionaries.
At the very least we should direct this sort of praise at open source folks like Mozilla, who are actually trying to change the role that software plays in our lives by making it free which, to me, translates to a desire and need to offer technology to the places around the world that still need it. Because those places are so poor, we can’t offer them Mac OS X, which is proprietary, not open source, or any other operating system besides something Linux-based. But let’s celebrate that possibility.
Or maybe all the poor need is a cellphone/iPod hybrid. That will put food in their bellies.
So look at the two pictures above, both of which ran in the New York Times. Is there a problem with so triumphantly flouting a new gadget while people struggle to not die?