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The Geek's Chihuahua: Living with Apple by…
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The Geek's Chihuahua: Living with Apple

by Ian Bogost

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More like Prada, less like Edison

I open these mini-books with trepidation because they are usually incomplete thoughts, unresearched theories, or halfbaked editorials. The Geek’s Chihuahua is the opposite. It is a complete history, a thoughtful analysis and a tidy encapsulation. It is a time capsule for what we lived through when something called Apple ruled.

Starting with the Apple II, Bogost and I had the same experiences, and this was nostalgic for me. I also remember my 150 baud modem, which I hooked up to the hotel room telephone by removing its cover and physically attaching wires. It bypassed the hotel’s Centrex system because the receiver never left the hookswitch, so my hourlong e-mail and chat sessions never got billed. My point is that it is not so different today than it was 35 years ago; hyperemployment is not a 21st century phenomenon. Underemployment is however, and the time wasted on iphones is a disease worth remarking on.

The most memorable finding is that Apple is no longer about pushing the bounds of technology; it is all about pushing the bounds of fashion. New iterations focus on the showy rather than the functionality. Must have means must be seen to have. Planned obsolescence isn’t even necessary, though it it there in all its ugliness.

I realize it’s a short book, but I’m a little surprised Bogost didn’t include mention of the old fashioned corporate beast Apple has become. It hoards vast piles of money, bigger than the currency reserves of most countries, yet refuses to pay its store employees more than minimum wage, insisting they should be thrilled to live The Apple Experience instead. Apple refuses to even consider unions. Apple wants Europe to authorize freezing women’s eggs so they can work longer when they’re young, and not bother coming back to work when they’re more expensive to employ. And of course, Apple is all about the walled garden and its own standards, the very opposite of the open systems of the idealistic.

Bogost swiftly summarizes the rise of various Apple products and the societal fallout from them, making the company the poster child for the technology slaves many have become. He does it with pinpoint perceptions and accurate reflection, often of himself. The Geek’s Chihuahua is a little gem.

David Wineberg ( )
  DavidWineberg | Apr 21, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0816699135, Paperback)

At dinnertime: check. At a traffic light: check. In bed at the end of the day: check. In line at the coffee shop: check. In The Geek’s Chihuahua, Ian Bogost addresses the modern love affair of “living with Apple” during the height of the company’s market influence and technology dominance. 

The ubiquitous iPhone and its kin saturate our lives, changing everything from our communication to our posture. Bogost contrasts the values of Apple’s massive success in the twenty-first century with those of its rise in the twentieth. And he connects living with Apple with the phenomenon of “hyperemployment”—the constant overwork of today’s technological life that all of us now experience. Bogost also reflects on the new potential function—as well as anxiety and anguish—of devices like the Apple Watch. We are tethered to our devices, and, as Bogost says: that’s just life—anxious, overworked, and utterly networked life. 

Forerunners: Ideas First is a thought-in-process series of breakthrough digital publications. Written between fresh ideas and finished books, Forerunners draws on scholarly work initiated in notable blogs, social media, conference plenaries, journal articles, and the synergy of academic exchange. This is gray literature publishing: where intense thinking, change, and speculation take place in scholarship.


(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 10 Jul 2015 04:12:41 -0400)

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