Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Lives of the iPhone Workers

I think it’s easy for us, as privileged Americans, to believe that our gadgets appear from God. iPhone broken? Well, I needed to upgrade to a G4 anyway. Plop down the credit card; like magic, the new technology appears.

Joel Johnson provides a more sobering view of where our technology comes from. In Shenzhen, China, more than 420,000 (nearly half a million!) workers manufacture the parts that power our iPhones, laptops, and a whole slew of gadgets. One of the more particularly sobering facts is the knowledge that 11 suicides took place at the factory earlier this year. Nets surrounding the dormitory buildings have curbed the suicides.

The facilities seem run-down but clean. Conditions for the workers in the factory aren’t visible–I guess we’ll have to wait for Johnson’s article in Wired later this month.

Filed under: china, consumerism, technology, work, , , , , , , ,

Look Ma! No Hands!

Google revealed yesterday that it has been testing autonomous cars on California highways. Thought that guy behind the wheel was reading a book? You may have been right: these Priuses are driven by new technology including “video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to ‘see’ other traffic.”

According to The New York Times, these cars can “drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.”

Filed under: technology, transportation, , , , ,

Arcade Fire Needs Your Home Address

Whaaa…?

For the music video to their new song “The Wilderness Downtown,” Arcade Fire chose to work with filmmaker Chris Milk and to integrate Google interactive maps. Billed as an “interactive film,” you enter your home address and witness the coolness. This really pushes the envelope in combining an interactive experience, creepy Google streetview technology (when did they capture those images of my house?), and a surprisingly effective array of browser windows in all shapes and sizes, containing streaming video. The whole process takes a couple minutes, and you’ve gotta download Google’s new Chrome Experiment, but it’s worth it.

If anything, Arcade Fire provides the excellent soundtrack. Reminds me of the way Radiohead embraced Web 2.0 to release In Rainbows. Or how Jonsi totally socked it to me with his one-of-a-kind, aesthetically mind-blowing concert and film experience for go. (If you still have a chance to see Jonsi live, you’d do well to get yerself a ticket before he’s gone.)

Why aren’t more of us taking advantage of the technology at our fingertips?

Filed under: media, music, technology, web 2.0, , , , , , ,

Jane Lynch Spoofs the iPhone 4

It’s hard not to love Jane Lynch.

Her perfect timing, hard-edged exterior, and outrageous, foul-mouthed utterances–all delivered with an impish smile. This spoof of the new iPhone is hilarious. Happy Tuesday.

Filed under: comedy, consumerism, technology, , , ,

The Abundance (and Conundrum) of Cell Phones in Africa

Sure, your phone’s useful in finding a mutual time and place to meet your friend for drinks. But what kind of a difference can a cell phone make in Niger?

Jenny C. Aker and Isaac M. Mbiti provide a pertinent anecdote in their article entitled “Africa Calling” in the most recent issue of The Boston Review. For one businessman in Niger, the introduction of a cellular network seven years ago was life-changing:

Before the tower was built, he had to travel several hours to the nearest markets via a communal taxi to buy millet or meet potential customers, and he never knew whether the person he wanted to see would be there. Now he uses his mobile phone to find the best price, communicate with buyers, and place orders.

Aker and Mbiti go beyond just providing statistics, though. As the authors note, the iconic image of the African phone user is a woman using the cell phone as a tool for improving trade in her local market. But, the authors, ask, does this image correlate to reality? In a nation like Niger–where 85% of the population lives on less than $2 per day–more than 60% have mobile phones. What are the implications for Western businesses that choose to invest in telecommunications rather than infrastructure, microfinance, or even direct aid?

I, too, have noticed the abundance (and everyday reliance) of cell phone networks, whether travelling in sub-Saharan or western Africa. It’s striking how extensive the reach of these companies has become: entire buildings are painted (free of cost for the business) in the vivid colors of a cell phone network as advertising; local markets sell SIM cards that retain user information, while eliminating the need for actually owning a phone (some individuals share a phone to save money).

Though the argument hints of paternalism (is it the West’s right to make such judgements on how–and how much–poor African nations should spend on these networks?), the question still feels somehow worth pondering. Access to information such as price comparison for millet, for example, has affected the economy as a whole; cell phones have aided in civic stability, such as “voter-education and registration campaigns and citizen-based monitoring.”

As Aker and Mbiti posit in this reasoned analysis of cell phone usage in Africa, “Can mobile phones transform the lives of the poor?” It’s a tough question to answer.

Filed under: africa, technology, , , , , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
February 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728  

Twitter

  • RT @Millikenmoon: To be clear, Milo's comments about Jews, women, Muslims and trans people were okay for #CPAC. 1 hour ago
  • RT @ananavarro: New week. Forget distractions-- crazy presser, rallies, made up Swedish tragedies. Let's focus. Demand investigation of Tru… 6 hours ago
  • RT @BernieSanders: Talk about cowardice. Republicans are trying to ram through Pruitt's confirmation before the American people find out wh… 2 days ago
  • RT @StephenAtHome: Trump tweeted that the media is "the enemy." Assuming he meant "the enema," given how the media is constantly making him… 2 days ago
  • RT @NicholsUprising: Trump lies. Trump lies to deceive in general. But Trump lies in particular because he's terrified by the #RESISTANCE h… 3 days ago

Visitor Map

Locations of Site Visitors

RSS Recent Posts from Towleroad

  • Billy Eichner Gets Political, ‘Riverdale’, ‘HTGAWM’, ‘Moonlight’ Better Sweep The Oscars and More TV This Week
    Check out our weekly guide to TV this week, and make sure you’re catching the big premieres, crucial episodes and the stuff you won’t admit you watch when no one’s looking. Billy on the Street has been killing it this season, but it’s not all threeso… Read The post Billy Eichner Gets Political, ‘Riverdale’, ‘HTGAWM’, ‘Moonlight’ Better Sweep The Oscars and M […]
  • Simon & Schuster Cancels Publication of Milo Yiannopoulos Book
    Simon & Schuster has canceled publication of homocon white supremacist man-boy love enthusiast Milo Yiannopoulos’s book Dangerous “after careful consideration,” according to the publisher after video clips surfaced of the alt-ri… Read The post Simon & Schuster Cancels Publication of Milo Yiannopoulos Book appeared first on Towleroad.
  • Katy Perry, China, Woolly Mammoth, South Africa, Mike Pence, Uber, Lana del Rey, Twin Peaks: HOT LINKS
    MIKE PENCE. On Michael Flynn: “I was disappointed to learn that the facts that had been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate.” "I was disappointed to learn that the facts conveyed to me by Gen. Flynn were inaccurate,"… Read The post Katy Perry, China, Woolly Mammoth, South Africa, Mike Pence, Uber, Lana del Rey, Twin Peaks: HOT LINKS app […]
  • Boxer Yusaf Mack Beats Down Homophobic Twitter Troll at Barber Shop: WATCH
    Boxer Yusaf Mack spotted a Twitter troll who had been harassing him for being gay while the troll’s head was in a sink at the LA Clippers barber shop in Philadelphia over the weekend. Mack decided to physically punish the troll in front of cust… Read The post Boxer Yusaf Mack Beats Down Homophobic Twitter Troll at Barber Shop: WATCH appeared first on Towlero […]
  • Milo Yiannopoulos Disinvited from CPAC
    Homocon white supremacist man-boy love enthusiast Milo Yiannopoulos has been disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after video clips surfaced of the alt-right troll defending sexual abuse of minors. The announcement was… Read The post Milo Yiannopoulos Disinvited from CPAC appeared first on Towleroad.

Polls

RSS Breaking News from The Daily Beast

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Pics from Africa 2010

No food for lazy man

Mao and Du Bois

Inside W.E.B. DuBois' library

Commemorating the great pan-African writer

African drumming and dance

More Photos

About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

Categories