Sparked by a phenomenon that I call "I-culture"; this research attempts, at first, to delineate the contours of the technological culture that Apple attempts to construct through various symbolic approaches. It then explores how people receive these symbolic messages. Finally, in light of three technological theories, it attempts to unearth whether people shape the meanings of Apple products or whether the products shape people's lives. The paper is divided into the following sections: methods, theoretical framework, Apple's history, Apple's counter cultural messages (symbolisms of democracy, individuality, style, and status), how people experience Apple technologies, analysis, and conclusions.
In terms of methodology, I first set out to delineate the contours of the technological culture that Apple attempts to construct. This was done through analyzing symbolic meanings present in their website apple.com and through analyzing symbolic meaning present in their advertisements and commercials, and through the evolution of their logos. Next, I used many different texts in order to construct a theoretical framework for my research.
[...] Apple has really propelled the ‘fashionization' of technology to the point that one interviewee even called her i-pod In terms of status symbols, as demonstrated by my research and interviews, Apple products have a certain air of superiority about them that make them eligible products to display, to draw attention to, to convey symbolic messages aforementioned. Conclusions: Do Apple Technologies Change Society or Do People Shape Meanings of the Products? In light of the three theoretical frameworks, technological symbolism, technological determinism and social determinism, my research supports all these theories to a certain degree. [...]
[...] After establishing the symbolic messages of Apple technologies, I wanted to see how people, themselves related to them. I asked several people how they experience their Apple products and these were some responses: It's kind of sad but I seriously can't live without my i-pod. I seriously take it with me everywhere I go (Personal Interview, 2008). I'm going to admit something really pathetic but I'll be late to class if my i-pod is dead so I can charge it quickly for 10 minutes (Personal Interview, 2008). [...]
[...] Apple as Democratic One of Apple's biggest messages is that the company holds a democratic view of computing. This message was and continues to be a reaction against institution-oriented companies such as IBM and monopolistic companies such as Microsoft. In order to illustrate this point, I have taken screen shots of a famous 1984 Apple advertisement and juxtaposed it to screen shots of a democratic campaign commercial for Barack Obama. Figure 1.0 Screen shots from 1984 Apple Advertisement (Apple Think Different Commercial, 1984) Figure 2.0 Screen shots from 2008 Election Advertisement (Vote Different Commercial, 2008) Both Advertisements are extremely significant in their symbolisms of democracy. [...]
[...] While his research focus is on sound culture, I believe the same status applies to all Apple products. In their research on how people use computers at home, Mackay and Ivey found that while PC households tend to designate studies or offices for their computers, Apple households tend to have their computers out in the living room (Mackay and Ivey, 1994). In this sense, Apple computers can be seen not just as functional but also as objects of symbolic status to put on display. [...]
[...] Finally I asked them what they make of Apple's symbolic messages of democracy; individualism, style, and status and these were some responses: Democracy? What? Isn't Apple the new monopoly (Personal Interview, 2008)? I think they are definitely stylish. I mean think about all the colors and accessories you can get. You can probably match them to all your outfits if you wanted to. And in terms of status, I definitely think it makes people feel But come on everyone has one so there is nothing unique about it. [...]
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