Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs

Brett T Robinson, Author
Brett T. Robinson. Baylor Univ., $24.95 (155p) ISBN 978-1-60258-821-9
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
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The technological and transcendent are now intermingled, according to Robinson, a visiting professor of marketing at Notre Dame. Surveying Apple’s advertisements since the 1980s, Robinson argues that Apple devices have become imbued with a sacred status. Devoted customers venerate iPhones and iPods in the shrines of Apple stores. One ad portrays the Apple computer as offering secret knowledge while another humanizes it with an emotional life. iPod applications are techno-religious icons, and the iPhone campaign “Touching Is Believing” alludes to experiences of the sublime. Steve Jobs was a visionary, fascinated with Indian spirituality and Zen Buddhism, and believed in the mantra that technology reshapes consciousness and encourages spontaneous creativity. Robinson’s soaring pronouncements that Apple products are “tools for seeking a lost sense of transcendence” are tempered by sharper insights that the iPhone “colonizes leisure” and that interior lives shrivel the more people use technology. The book could use criticism of the consumerism behind Apple’s religious imagination. When AT&T asks consumers to “Rethink Possible,” mimicking Apple’s successful “Think Different” marketing strategy, it attests that the only profits cared about are financial. (Aug.)
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