Just a comment about a picture and "appropriate" corporate use.
I just checked out a website that I actually like quite a bit, but I chafed at what I thought was an overly-harsh swipe at Apple for its recent use of Rosa Parks' image on its main site after her recent death. Her image was used in the past in its advertising campaign, and this is not the first time a public figure has been honored after her death.
And for those cynics out there, you might be swayed a bit by hearing from the former Apple employee who personally made the suggestion to Steve Jobs to make a brief tribute on the site to George Harrison when that singer passed away. It wasn't the cynical suggestion of a products marketing team or the result of a decision to cash in on the latest public sentiment. It was just a suggestion made by a former baby boomer to another, and a few hours later, it was done.
The recent tribute seemed just like the thing Jobs would instantly order done, given his extremely "healthy" ego (albeit earned, you gotta admit) and almost missionary zeal with which he not only conducts business, but seems to inform the very way he looks at Apple's relationship to the world. For better or worse, I do think Jobs' intent was in the right place and that this wasn't a cheap marketing ploy. It has precedent, it fits right into the company's sense of itself, and the company's self-styling as a shitkicker in the industry and a groundbreaker against the many odds within its own field is not at all off the mark.
And in terms of appropriateness, the fact that this picture was even used may be a useful hint in any debate over "propriety," in both the ethical and legal senses of the term. Surely, Ms. Parks' estate approved the picture and its particular use by Apple, both in the previous campaign and in its present manifestation. Read my take on its use for yourself.
(MY RESPONSE TO THE SITE POSTING)
I don't really feel ya on the exploitative tip there. I'm a devoted Apple user, which may make my comment seem like an kneejerk defense, but it is rather the reponse of someone who fell in love with the company because of its singular philosophy of basically being a shitkicker. In that sense, I don't think the previous ad campaign's hauling out of people who "think different" felt at all like the standard corporate ploy to exploit.
Is a major corporation out to primarily make money? of course, and Apple's no different. But the reason no one said much about using images of Lennon or Einstein is that Apple - more so back in the early days - really earned its right to place itself up there with the real shitkickers who changed parameters and paradigms. From the days of the greenscreen first Apple computers that were the first to really bring computers to the real people in the world, to the Macintosh, Apple's seen itself that way, having kicked off the launch of the Mac with the infamous and ingenious "1984" commercial in which they basically told the IBM and Microsoft robots to go stick it up their collective ass. And that was before Apple was big, super coroporate, and had cool white widgets that everybody wanted. They were just so insanely confident in their own genius from the git -go that they fanatically believed their ideas would simply win the day.
And they were partially wrong, partially right. Microsoft stole the idea for a spectacular, graphic-based user interface it would call Windows from apple. yes, apple got it from from a xerox special projects team, but basically as a gift, since no one could think of it as being practical. Apple recognized the practicality intstantly.
So, really, as much as we now may see apple getting all corporate and cool in its success, if it weren't for them, we'd still be typing obscure words into a cold, dark command line and find ourselves dependent on a narrow technorati, like back in the day: no playing with fonts, personal publishing, photoshopping, on and on.
Apple may be annoyingly and cloyingly "übercool" these days, but for most of its life, it's was an uphill battle, and one in which they nearly got taken out more than a couple times. But they stuck to their guns and their ideas have really won the day. We take advantage of Firewire, Quicktime, and several other technologies all the time.
And yes, i am also annoyed that the ipod has become a yuppie item. But we also can't deny that they've initiated a revolution in music as well, whether we like itunes or not. And they're still going.
So i think that within their field, which was and still is dominated by behemoths that originally wanted to use, abuse, and do away with them, Apple has proved itself as a scrappy underdog that wrested by sheer intellectual force and belief in a real philosophy of simplicity and access its place in the world. And it's a struggle we all benefit from, every single time we turn on any computer – especially Windoze.
So I think apple deserves boasting rights, as well as the right to give a shout out to Ms. Parks. Or to Einstein. Or Lennon. Apple has paid its dues in my eyes.
Cut 'em a bit of slack. I found the nod to Rosa extremely appropriate in light of the company's self-image from the beginning and self-styling into the present. It wasn't like GM or someone had put together an ad with the tag line being "Buy GM. Rosa would have" or something. Sure, any implied corporate branding on Apple's part by referring to Rosa has to do with her image as a woman who wasn't going to take any more shit from the Man. Maybe it's arrogant to place yourself in the same category as these great intellectual, artistic, and political rebels – but if any corporate entity deserves to – or at least deserves the benefit of the doubt that it was well-intentioned, I think it's Apple.
In my eyes, Apple did for personal computing what Lennon did for music, Einstein did for physics, and for what Rosa did for social justice. They all played a crucial role in shaping the better world that we live in today. Otherwise, why would we honor them? I'm glad that they made the choice to give Ms. Parks a mention – cause she deserves to be standing up there with all the white men who seem to get most of the credit for shaping our world.