where your iphone comes from

The latest episode of This American Life is a breathtaking first-person account of a Mac aficionado’s visit to an electronics manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China. Here he meets some of the workers who put iPhones together and discovers that the entire manufacturing process is done by hand! He learns of the incredible toll this process of constructing little electronics goods has on their health and lives. The account, partly due to Mike Daisey’s engaging monologue style, is really unforgettable and disturbing. One of my favorite lines from Daisy’s account:

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 than 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 human hair, one after another after another. Everything is hand-made.

In typical TAL style, they try to get the other side of the story and the last ten minutes of the episode really grapple with the effects of sweatshop labor on economic mobility. Still, the voices that will remain in your head after the podcast are those of the mistreated workers whose bodies are souls are slowly being sacrificed on the factory line.


Written by brayden king

January 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I’m going to guess that the story would be just as bad if the research was about my HTC android phone.



    January 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

  2. Mike Daisey makes that point (re other brands) in his one man show (I saw it at Woolly Mammoth Theater).



    January 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm

  3. He makes that point on the podcast as well. Many of the fancy electronic gadgets we use are made in Shenzhen.


    brayden king

    January 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm

  4. Hi guys, I just got my iPhone 4s with IOS 5.0 and i can not Jailbreak the phone, BTW i just won the phone from here if I remember correctly, getappleproductsforfree(.)com please help me with a tutorial.



    January 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm

  5. I wrote that quote down when I first listened to the episode too. Great stuff.



    February 26, 2012 at 1:22 am

  6. […] was a segment from Mike Daisy’s one-man play, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.  (I blogged about Daisy’s story when it originally came out, saying “the voices that will remain in your head after the […]


  7. Spot on with this write-up, I actually think this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!



    March 24, 2012 at 1:41 am

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