developer Digest, Vol 11, Issue 21

marc zonzon marc.zonzon at
Fri May 14 05:09:41 EDT 2010

On Fri, May 14, 2010 at 2:28 AM, Wolfgang Spraul <wolfgang at> wrote:
> Chris,
> > its a bit offtopic, but what did local people told you about their work
> > and life in a industrial area like this ?
> I don't think it's off-topic at all, I always understood copyleft hardware
> as also trying to document the social aspects behind hardware production,
> drag all this stuff out from behind layers of secrecy, no matter whether
> what we find is good or bad.
> For example we have this plan for years already to bring forward the
> people 'behind' the product (all voluntarily of course).
> For example by recording small video clips of workers from various vendors,
> then the first time you take the device out of the box and boot it, it is
> presented to you by someone who made it. Showing a little clip about that
> person, or a short personal message to the buyer, or something like that.
> So we have like 50 or 100 such 'worker personalizations', and each device
> is flashed with another one. Something like that. Of course we could also
> include our own people in this, since there are tons of contributors on
> the software, distributor side as well, and they as much as the workers
> make all of this possible.
> It's just so much work to actually pull it off. We get there... :-)
> Back to your question, there is nothing much I can report to you.
> This factory is located in a very nice region west of Shanghai, many
> lakes and waterways around it
> Google Maps:,120.85274&ll=31.020281,120.852356&z=13
> OpenStreetMap:
> (BTW, depressing how much better Google Maps is for this area than OSM -
> need to make contributing easier, another project :-))
> The two guys we spoke with work for that keyboard factory for 2 and 6 years.
> They feel under pressure, but they like this factory because it allows
> them to learn quickly.
> The regular workers live in dormitories, we were told it used to be 10 in
> one room, and no air-con, but thanks to pressure from their customers this
> has now improved down to only 6 workers per room, every room has air-con,
> food options in the cafeteria improved, paid days off (vacation) was
> introduced, etc.
> As much as I would criticize Apple from a copyleft perspective, I have to
> say I have heard several times (also at this factory) that Apple makes sure,
> to the last worker of the last vendor, that people are treated well.
> Apple pushes through, all the way through their supply chain, increases of
> worker salaries around 30% above non-Apple customers. They push through
> improvements in dormitory standards, food choices, overtime protection,
> underage protection, paid days off, and so on. Unfortunately at the
> factories I have seen so far, these improvements only apply to the workers
> working on Apple stuff.
> In fact the truth is, right now, the people who manufactured Ben NanoNote
> parts were not treated as well as the ones making Apple stuff. That bothers
> me and we will change it :-) Just need to work a bit more to have a better
> product, better software quality, higher volume. But as soon as there is
> any chance to do that, rest assured we will exercise the same kind of
> pressure into the system to treat people well. Free software is built on
> principles of treating people respectfully, and copyleft hardware needs to
> do the same in the hardware world.
> Apple is doing a lot of good things in this area, also in secrecy as always
> with Apple, but in this case really they should talk more about it cause
> it's just plain the right thing to do.
> Pressure from customers works! I can tell you first hand because I hear
> the effects of it on the ground. And it cannot come from the workers, they
> have no chance. It has to come from the end customer, asking nasty questions
> to the companies where they buy goods from, so that those companies ask
> those same nasty questions into their supply chain, until it reaches the
> weakest and last endpoint, who is still a real human being as we all are,
> and improves that person's life in a factory somewhere in China or elsewhere.
> Hope this helps, we will keep this stuff coming, products are made by
> real people and they matter. Technology is to serve us (all), not the other
> way round.
> Wolfgang
Thanks a lot for your answer Wolfgang, people like me will fill quite
inspired to participate to a projects with a higher views.

I don't know much about copyleft hardware, a little more on the older
copyleft software, but I think we can aim at least to the same target
than Richard Stallman in 1993 in GNU manifesto

"we can be hospitable to everyone and obey the law. In addition, GNU
serves as an example to inspire and a banner to rally others to join
us in sharing. This can give us a feeling of harmony which is
impossible if we use software that is not free"

Because as said in the introductory quote of "Freedom or power"
"he love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the
love of ourselves."

Of course we need to join pragmatic and idealism but better follow the
advices in "Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism"

" If you focus your mind on the freedom and community that you can
build by staying firm, you will find the strength to do it. “Stand for
something, or you will fall for anything.”
And if cynics ridicule freedom, ridicule community…if “hard-nosed
realists” say that profit is the only ideal…just ignore them, and use
copyleft all the same."

So thank you for your "Technology is to serve us **all**, not the
other way round" (I just replace parenthesis by a <strong></strong>!)


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