Author(s): Brian Merchant
Imagine your favorite dystopian scenario. The physical and digital apocalypse is nigh, and we're all wiped out, save for a few hardy souls who perpetuate the species and allow us to rebuild. When the archaeologists dig us up in a couple thousand years, there's going to be this band of sediment packed with indestructible screens, shimmering silver casings, slim batteries, and mosaics of chips. What would they piece together? What would they glean that it said about us? What history would it reconstruct? What did this thing - this iPhone-mean? They might thread together our ancient legend; that this device was willed into existence by a single, larger-than-life man about whom many tales were told; he of the black turtleneck, a wizard with an alchemy of design and ruthless practice. And indeed we do give Steve Jobs and his disciples the credit for inventing the iPhone-but as we think of our distant progeny it may occur to us that our fixation on him (and Apple, for that matter) in this story may be one marvelous oversimplification. He may have been a genius, but the story of the iPhone is so much more than the centerpiece in Jobs' biography. The true story of the iPhone, the meaning we piece together from all that it holds within and all that it projects without, is a grand story of the biggest technological, social, and economic trends of the 21st Century, which have collided at the right places and at the right times, in global concert and collaboration, and, in the process, sealed a contemporary account of our current day and our evolving future into five and a half cubic inches. And so, this book. A people's history of the most successful product we have ever created.
Brian Merchant is the senior editor of Motherboard, VICE's science and technology outlet, the founder/editor of its online fiction outlet Terraform, and his work has appeared in theGuardian,Slate,VICEMagazine,Salon,FastCompany,Discovery,GOOD,Paste andGrist as well as on the front pages of Reddit, Digg and Slashdot.