Response to BBC Panorama’s ‘Apple’s Broken Promises’ : An Open Letter to Apple

Dear Apple,

I tried contacting you earlier via your social responsibility page on your website. It has been two months since I contacted you and am still waiting for a reply.

I was one of some 800,000 Australian viewers that watched   BBC Panorama’s Apple’s Broken Promises aired on ABC’s Four Corners. [1] In your statement to the ABC, you state you are “deeply offended’ regarding not only the negative portrayal of your company but also the ABC’s choice to broadcast this documentary. [2]

I took on your suggestion to read the information about your   supplier responsibility commitment on your website. Your policies demonstrate a strong commitment to worker’s rights but are these policies really carried out in practice?

For instance, your website boasts about Apple’s commitment to preventing excessive work hours and  to work overtime is a voluntary option for workers.[3] As you are aware in the BBC’s secret filming they show that workers were required to say yes to overtime work , as a prerequisite to being employed at your contractor, Pegatron.[4] Is this really a true reflection of a commitment to  reducing excessive work hours?

Even if workers do only work the maximum of 60 hours a week, on a 5 day working week that’s 12 hour shift!  Plus overtime could equal a 15-18 hour day. [5] For a comparison in Australia a standard manufacturing employees working hours are 38 hours per week. [6] That’s a 22 hour difference between standards for China and standards for Australia.

As technology blogger, Barry Collins points out no technology company would have a perfect human rights record.[7]   I understand that to have documentaries such as ‘Apple’s Broken Promises’ expose to the world issues in your supply chain is not positive news coverage. However,  on what bases do you label the findings as “irresponsible”? [8]

As a company that has  publicly stated that they are committed to improving worker’s conditions you should be thankful that BBC’s independent investigations  have brought issues to your attention.

I don’t understand how this is irresponsible and misleading journalism.

Apple, as the world’s most admired company according to Forbes Magazine[9], surely you are up to the challenge to improving the working conditions of your production line staff?

After all Happier workers are more productive workers which means more profits for you. [10] So it’s in your workers’ and companies  best interests. If you would like to contact me feel free to leave a comment below.

Sincerely ,


Media and Communications Student

Wollongong, Australia

[1] Tv Tonight,  2015, Monday 2nd March , Timeshifted, viewed 1 May 2015 <> [2] Apple Inc, 2015, Statement, ABC Four Corners, viewed 28 April, 2015 <> [3]Apple, 2015, Labor and Human Rights Highlights from our 2015 Report, Apple Inc, viewed 25 April, 2015, <> [4]  BBC Panorama, 2015, Apple’s Broken Promises, (Documentary) , 2nd March, ABC Four Corners viewed 2 March 2105 <> [5] BBC Panorama, 2015, Apple’s Broken Promises, (Documentary) , 2nd March, ABC Four Corners viewed 2 March 2105 <> [6] Fair Work Australia, 2015, Manufacturing Award – Hours of Work,  Fair Work Ombudsman, viewed 2 May 2015 <> [7] Collins B, 2015, Bad Apple or the best of the bad bunch? Sad reality about Apple Broken Promises from BBC Panorama, PCPRO <19 December 2014 <> [8] Apple Inc, 2015, Statement, ABC Four Corners, viewed 28 April, 2015 <> [9] Fortune 100, 2014, Number 1 Apple, Fortune Magazine, viewed 28 April, 2015 < [10] Oswald A , Proto Eugenio and Sgro D, 2014, ‘Happiness and Productivity’  viewed 28 April 2014, <>


Ever considered using a life coach ?

Meet Karen. She has just started up her freelance life coaching business and is happy to offer support and guidance no matter what life stage you are at.

Yes, if you thought Karen has striking resemblance to Samantha from the film Her[1] that was my initial reaction too. I haven’t tried the app myself but from what I’ve heard she has a  personality of her own!

“If you share with me, I can help you find out things about yourself you might not even realise.” – Karen

But how can she find out so much information about you ?

Like with any interaction with an app or webpage, users plug in details  about themselves.  Karen is uniquely  designed to adapt herself based on the user’s willingness to disclose information with her. The more you open up to her (and her software) the more insightful she can be.

The app’s developers Blast Theory then utilise psychological profiling techniques to monitor user’s interactions to develop a personality profile of the user. [2]

Karen is very interested in your personal life.  She wants to know what you have been up to.  As users go through more sessions  she becomes more nosy and asks more questions. [3]

But, so too are  Google, Facebook and just about any other social media entity. They want to collect as much information  about you as possible!

Just looking at targeted ads alone it’s a bit creepy just how much a machine can find out about what we are looking at online!

I’ve been doing a bit of market research on cruise liners for a  university marketing assignment . It’s no surprise Google has picked this up and I get ads like this one come up all the time!

Karen screenshot

You see, Karen is not really there to be a good life coach. Rather   she was created by digital art group Blast Theory and their collaborators as a bit of a social experiment come activism piece.[4]

Blogger, Sophie Weiner, describes Karen as a great way to demonstrate  how big data can be used by actively showing users rather than just telling them about it.[5] Karen’s  application system is armed with lots of information collected from users interactions with the app and their phone.  (But its comforting to know that  in  Blast Theory’s privacy agreement, users own their own data and can control how much Karen sees. )  Check out the Karen Privacy Policy { here}

Karen may not be able to help you much with your life problems. But, she could take you on a journey of discovery through data mining. If you’re up for the challenge  a free consultation with Karen is one download away.

Just search for ‘Karen is My Life Coach’ in your app store.

[1] 2013, Her, IMBD, viewed 28 April 2015<>

[2] Frank Rose, 2015, Karen, an App That Knows You All Too Well’ New York Times, 2 April, viewed 28 April 2105 <>

[3] 2015, Karen Research Blog, Digital Fictional Life Coach, blog, viewed  28 April  2015 <>

[4] Gareth Mitchell (presenter), 2015, Digital Fictional Life Coach, online radio broadcast, 15 April, BBC World Service, viewed 28 April  2015 <>

[5] Sophie Weiner, 2015, Can This Dysfunctional Life Coach Make You Care About Privacy Rights?, blog, 14 April, viewed 28 April  2015 <>

Dumb Ways to Die , Worlds Best Public Safety Advertisment ?


On the 16th of November 2012, advertising agency McCain Australia for their client Melbourne Metro released a quirky 3 minute animated video, titled Dumb Ways to Die  (DWTD).  Who would have thought that a public safety advertisement (PSA) could turn into an international YouTube hit, with over  76 million views


  DWTD depicts 26 characters that meet their untimely deaths through stupid, senseless acts. Who in their right mind would sell their kidneys on the internet! McCain has chosen a range of globally recognisable dangerous but unusual death scenarios.   The DWTD song, repeats the phrase ‘dumb’ to emphasise how senseless it is to die prematurely because of carelessness.  McCain in the last three scenes emphasises that not observing basic safety measures around train tracks is the ‘dumbiest way to die’.

The aim of this campaign was to appeal to young people that don’t usually pay attention to PSA.  (McCain, 2012)  What is ingenious about DWTD is that it’s a PSA in disguise. It is only in the last 40 seconds the association with dumb behaviour and rail safety is established.  The entertaining nature of DWTD is the reason this PSA has achieved ‘viral’ YouTube video status. It has over 76 million hits worldwide!    It is evident that Metro wanted their message to be distributed through social media, with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube plug ins available on the campaign’s website. Furthermore, the DWTD campaign appeals to the public to interact with their site by pledging not to be ‘dumb’ around trains.

Communications critic, Madigan notes that DWTD is effective at reaching young people because this age bracket  don’t want to be perceived as dumb. (Gruen Planet, 2013)  Making young people, associate risky behaviour with being uncool has  been successful for previous PSA.  The RTA’s No One Thinks Big of You, TV advertisement is a classic example.  It looks like Metro is also pitching to teenage boys as most of the DWTD characters appear to be male.

However it’s not clear whether young people have got the safety message. As with many popular YouTube hits,  DWTD has become subject to a range of remixes and parodies. For instance, Mini Tricksterr, uploaded a clip depicting real life enactments of the scenes from DWTD voiced over with the original song.  DWTD has unfortunately inspired some dumb behaviour in the name of YouTube fame.

Back in Melbourne, there is also controversy surrounding whether DWTD has been able to achieve its goal of reducing rail related deaths. McCain cites that “Metro has seen a 21% reduction in accidents and deaths.” (McCain, 2013)  However these success figures were questioned by Victoria’s Department of Transport which cited increases in rail accidents. (Gruen Planet, 2013).

Nevertheless, McCain has set a new benchmark for creative standards for PSA.  DWTD has won a string of industrial awards, the Direct Lions Grand Pix and ADMA award just to name a few. (Marketing Mag, 2013)   Advertising show, Gruen Planet even cited it as the most awarded advertisement ever! Not bad for a video reminding everybody, it’s common sense not to get in the way of a moving train!


Diaz, A. 2013. Behind Dumb Ways to Die. Advertising Age, 84 (40).

Dumb Ways To Die. 2014. Dumb Ways To Die. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Mar 2014].

Marketing magazine. 2014. Dumb Ways To Die | Marketing magazine. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Mar 2014 2014. Dumb Ways to Die | McCANN Australia. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Mar 2014].

mUmBRELLA. 2012. Melbourne’s Metro Trains launches ‘dumb ways to die’ campaign to curb preventable train-related deaths – mUmBRELLA. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Mar 2014].

Success, N. and Die, D. 2013. No dumb luck: Metro claims safety success. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 Mar 2014].

ABC,  2013. Gruen Planet , 18th September 2013.


I agree with Lizzie Velasquez, Internet Trolling Sucks!

I must admit that I was hesitant to start blogging and tweeting when I first started studying BCM. The idea that anyone could potentially see and interact with my work was an exciting yet daunting prospect.

As Dreher notes that online spaces such as blogs are suppose to be an inclusive, vibrant and democratic space where we can interact with each other in the virtual world of the internet. But, the web has a dark side. It’s called internet trolling. Unfortunately women seem to be more likely to be at the receiving end of some very nasty comments.

I was quite shocked to read Filipovic’s reflections  on her own and other women’s experience with being subject to internet trolling because of the feminist topics  she and others chose to  blog about.

Last year  Forbes contributor, Tom Watson in an article on cyber-sexism quotes activist-writer Laura Penny’s rant about the issue. (2013) She was subject to taunts on Twitter because of what she wrote about.  I think this quote encapsulates the feelings of many women about this problem of online hate threats to women.

“The idea that this sort of hate speech is at all normal needs to end now. The Internet is public space, real space; it’s increasingly where we interact socially, do our work, organize our lives and engage with politics, and violence online is real violence. The hatred of women in public spaces online is reaching epidemic levels and it’s time to end the pretense that it’s either acceptable or inevitable.” (Laura Penny quoted in Fobes’s contributor’s Article “Cybersexism And Its Cost: Fighting Back Against Online Misogyny”

Granted, we all have a right to voice our own opinion. Internet troll, Burton notes “Facebook is an open forum”. However I am sure that many would agree that this should not give the right for people to attack others online.  As Lizzie says “I am just human like you guys… and it sucks”  Even though comments are just words on a page, they can still sting somebody very badly.

Participatory politics – Encouraging young people to speak up !

Jenkins draws attention to how the digital age has now herald a new era of political engagement or activism amongst young people. (2012)

Social media has provided young people with a medium through which they can promote social causes.
A range of grass roots activism campaigns have emerged on social media. One YouTube video can inspire millions to support a cause. The Kony 2012 campaign convinced millions of young people that spreading the word about Joseph Kony would help lead the International Criminal Court to his arrest. The Kony 2012 campaign is a great example of the power of clicktivism.

Ironically, one of the biggest criticisms of Kony 2012 was that it was slactivism. The argument being that supporting a cause through online engagement such as sharing a video through social media is lazy and not a genuine contribution to a cause. (Bailyn, 2012)

However, as Jenkins notes often youth find out about political movements or social issues through a viral video. (2012) Although the Kony 2012 movement can be perceived as a short term internet craze, it still achieved global awareness of the plight of thousands of child soldiers in Uganda. The video and it’s message was able to engage young people and generate discussion.


Slactivism Image: Photo credit :

Politicians’ not only activist organisations are also trying to use participatory politics to help connect with younger voter demographics.

Obama is well known for his social media efforts in his 2008 Presidential campaign. YouTube videos and the MyBO space on his website were used to provide a platform through which young people could address political issues that were of interest to them. (Gibson,2009)

Kevin Rudd tried to engage with young people through social media during the 2013 election. For example he tried to host a forum on Reddit where he encouraged Australians to “ask him anything”. (Rudd borrowed this idea from Obama’s 2012 campaign. (Fitzsimmons, 2013)

I think that these days social media has provided us with more opportunities to interact with politics than ever before. We have the capability of sending a message directly to the PM or are able to join a virtual human rights movement!

Gibson, RK (2009) ‘New Media and the Revitalisation of Politics’ Representation Vol 45: 3

Remixing – Creating new stories or illegally tampering old ones?

Remixing is about getting creative with existing, music, videos or stories to create a new text. For instance the mash up of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Twilight’ created a new story with the Buffy and Edward remix clip .


Two characters from different vampire themed texts are interacting with each other, revealing new alternative storylines neither original producers would have imagined.


Media theorist, Axel Burns notes that sometimes a mash up can become more popular than the original text! The Buffy and Edward clip with 3 million views has certainly become a YouTube hit.


Whelam notes that remix is about détournement or “derailment”. I.e. That remixes create new socio-cultural meaning of texts.


A new cover of a song may retain the original musical soundtrack but create a new parody of the lyrics. A good example is the rewriting of Frozen’s theme song as  “Let it Go” for College Students. In this clip, “Elsa” is ranting about her exams and how she has not studied for them. The lyrics are changed entirely to include lines such as “I don’t care what my Mum is going to say…. F* it all, F* it all my grades never bothered me anyways”.

This new version of “Let it Go” may resonate with students as Elsa in this song expresses some of the frustrations shared by many during exam time.
This alternative version of the song gives a new element to Elsa that Disney would not provide. No Disney movie would encourage children to not have a care in the world about exams. Nor would any Disney song have swearing in every second line of a song!

Nowadays anyone with a computer, basic editing software can generate their own remix video and distribute it on the web.   However, those producers that hold the intellectual property rights to the original texts go to great lengths to prevent remixing.


I went back to have a look at the Frozen – Exams remix video only to find this pop up.



Frozen Remix Video taken down from Total Sorority Website. See link
Frozen Remix Video taken down from Total Sorority Website. See link


My guess is that the video has been taken down due to copyright infringement allegations from Disney.


Lessig sees these regulations regarding reusing material as restricting creative freedoms, particularly of young people. (2007)

The reality is that media institutions such as Disney do not embrace read/ write culture and in turn the creativity of remixing. (Lessig, 2007)

Transmedia storytelling letting the audience map out the story

Transmedia stories unfold across a range of channels, providing an ongoing continuation of the same narrative. (Jenkins , 2007)   As Jenkins outlines,  no one single media text or source contains all the elements of the story. (2007)

My favourite transmedia story would have to be Harry Potter. A story that has been unfolding across seven novels, eight films,  video games,  social media commentary, countless unofficial  fan sites and JK Rowling’s very own fan site Pottermore.

[] – YouTube = JK Rowling Announces Pottermore

When Pottermore was released by J.K Rowling in 2011, Jenkins offered his analysis about how Harry Potter can be classified as a transmedia text. You can read his blog here

Let’s consider some points outlined in Jenkin’s Transmedia Story Telling 101 and relate them to Harry Potter.

1)      “Synergy – Spreading the story (and the Harry Potter brand) across a range of media platforms.”

Jenkins notes that much of the official Harry Potter media is merely representing the story in different ways. I.e. how the film is a representation of JK Rowling’s books. However, I think the story through Harry Potter games (video and board games), merchandise and the theme park expand the story across multiple platforms. For example a  Playstation game a gamer is faced with a range of scenarios from the story. The gamers interactions have not been entirely from the book or film. In turn they are able to reshape some of the plots and storylines.


2)     “ Transmedia stories expanding over fictional worlds. We need to use our collective intelligence”

One muggle reader will never be able to figure out all the mysteries of the magical universe that is the world of Harry Potter.   Perhaps this is why fan based websites are so popular. They provide a space where fans can get together to piece together elements to this mystical world of magic. For Harry Potter there are many fan spaces out there on the web From unofficial sites such as Harry Potter Wiki and the official Pottermore website.   What is great about Pottermore, is that the creator, JK Rowling herself has a chance to reveal more details that may have been left out in the book.

3)      “Provide roles and goals enact aspects of the story into life.”

Pottermore provides fans with the opportunity to belong to the wizarding world.  There are interactive features where fans can be sorted into a house and even chose a wand! For members there are even house competitions just like at Hogwarts!

Below is an example of one fans journey through the entire first book of the series on Pottermore.