The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant is a great yarn — Merchant has chops — and a revelation.
At one point I looked at my iPhone and was like, I can’t even be in the same room with you right now.
Here are the things that stood out: there’s a narrative spun by the late Steve Jobs and Apple that he had the concept for the iPhone — including the multitouch screen — and marshalled a team to invent it. Nope. Not what happened. AT ALL.
In fact, the story of the best-selling product of all time — something that has produced significant shifts in our culture — is not a story of a lone inventor. It’s a story of the collective accumulation of knowledge.
(This is super important for us, as culture makers, to pay attention to and integrate. I’m really worried about the damage that “Expertism” and the notion that we’re all off in our corners inventing things that no one else thought of or was working on causes in our culture and TO OUR RELATIONSHIPS with each other. That shit’s a myth. Isolation is soul-death. No one creates anything alone.)
Also: the heart-breaking cruelty of Steve Jobs.
Also: the dehumanizing, divorce-inducing pace of work. Also: for every iPhone, 34 tons of earth is moved or mined. Also: child labour.
Also: radioactive, poisonous waste dumps.
In other words, we’ve GOT to stop venerating “innovation” and take a more holistic look at the consequences of our entrepreneurship. Not just when we’re Apple. Us, too, as makers and culture makers.