The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Part Nine

This is Part Nine, the final chapter, of “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” by Mike Daisey, the 2011 Trading 8s “Journalist of the Year”. If you haven’t been following along, I encourage you to start from the beginning. And, if at all possible, I encourage you to go see Daisey perform this masterpiece in person. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Spread the virus.

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9. “A Virus of the Mind”
by Mike Daisey

I used to hear from Steve Jobs occasionally.

Never directly.

I don’t even think he knew I heard from him.

Because people who have sat in the seats you are sitting in right now, in theaters all over the world, sometimes, after they heard the words you have been hearing, sometimes, they would write to him.

And sometimes they would cc me and bcc me, and I would see hundreds of messages flooding out to a single fixed point, filled with questions. And sometimes, an answer would come back.

And sometimes, they would forward his answers to me.

And there were all kinds. Sometimes a short, sharp word, sometimes a link, sometimes a simple line of text:

“Mike doesn’t appreciate the complexities of the situation.”

And I looked on every message that came back with hope.

And I would keep my head down. And I would tell my story, night after night. In city after city.

And when tech journalists would let themselves be flown all the way to Shenzhen in the company of PR reps for Foxconn, and walk around the gleaming factories, and then write cover stories for glossy magazines without ever speaking to a single worker…

…I would keep my head down. And I would tell my story.

And when the press would ask Steve Jobs, “Steve, what’s up with Foxconn? What’s it like?” and Steve Jobs would say, “Gosh, it’s a factory, but it’s not like any factory we’ve ever seen. It has swimming pools and movie theaters—it’s amazing.”

I would keep my head down. And I would tell my story.

And when Apple would call journalists who had spoken to me, and tell them, “You know, I don’t know if you want to be associated with him. He’s kind of unstable. You know, he does work in the theater.”

I would keep my head down. And I would tell my story.

And tonight—we know the truth.

You can read it in the newspapers, it is humming in the radio, reflecting in the televisions, it is all across the net. Everyone is learning it, day after day. It is too large for any PR department to contain.

We now know that it is everything you have heard tonight and it is more. We now know that they knew. They always knew. They turned their back on their workers a long time ago.

And they squeezed their margins so tight that they made much of what you have heard tonight happen. And they made themselves the most profitable company in the history of the world.

And Steve Jobs—this genius of design and form—blinded himself to the most essential law of design: that the way in which a thing is made is a part of the design itself.

But you won’t forget that, will you?

You won’t forget that…because tonight is a virus.

It started in the first scene but you couldn’t feel it.

And by the third scene, it had jumped your firewalls and it’s been leaping from protected memory to protected memory all night long.

It’s been re-writing your code from the inside out and I’m letting you know now, you will never be rid of it.

It is inside of you, just like it’s inside of me, twisting and wriggling. And when these lights come up, when this theatrical construct falls away, it will still be in you.

You will carry it out these doors, you will be vectors for it. You will carry it to your homes, and when you sit down in front of your laptops, when you open them up, you will see the blood welling up between the keys. You will know that those were made by human hands. You will always know that. When you take your phones out outside to check the time, and the light falls across your face, you will know that it may have been made by children’s hands. You will know that.

And you will live with it. Just as I live with it. Just as we’re all going to have to start seeing it if we’re going to make the shift.

Tonight, the door is open if you want to walk through it.

Tonight we are jailbroken.

Tonight we are free.