Leaving behind a different kind of Carnegie Hall

Matt, Marc and I saw Mike Daisey’s Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs a few months back. We somehow got tickets in the front row. (Matt got the above photo before the show.) From that vantage point, we had an amazingly absorbing experience. Nothing but the lip of the Woolly Mammoth stage and this table stood between us and Daisey, maybe the best monologist in the country. As he described a near-obsessive love and growing fear of Apple, he was Ned Beatty in Network. He set you to explore whatever you knew of Apple — even if you knew a lot.

The monologue was half a tribute to Jobs: his ideas, his creativity, his thinking differently. The other half of the night was a challenge to Jobs: his cutthroat business tactics, his secrecy, his questionable and critical Chinese supply chain. Daisey was a proud fanboy. To wind down after a show, he explained, he would disassemble and then┬áreassemble┬áhis Macbook. But he had concerns, ones that sent him to Foxconn’s gates to interview factory workers. The split nature of the show allowed him to define how mass innovation happens. Jobs fit into the line of world-beating tycoons, ones like Rockefeller and Carnegie, ones who would not believe there was a line, or if forced to admit as much, would tear apart the line at whatever great cost, rethink it, rebuild it, and sell it.

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