Chart: The iPhone Vs. a Torch

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Some teenagers had a crazy raucous party in Los Angeles. They may have communicated the location of this party using the latest in telephony and pocket computing. When police officers waded into the crowd, the kids held their phones above their heads. A local resident, who had been reading Steve Jobs' biography when the noise from the party interrupted her evening of repose, opined:

"These two women [police officers] were in the middle and all these kids' iPhones were like torches and they were waving them" and taunting the police. "I was thinking, 'I don't think Steve Jobs would like his iPhone to be used in that way.'"

And I couldn't decide if a flaming torch was a good comparison for an iPhone, so I made this handy chart. Feel free to consult it if you get confused.

IS THE IPHONE LIKE A TORCH?

Yes:

  1. Emits light.
  2. Can be held over one's head, even (or especially!) when one is part of a marauding crowd.

No:

  1. Not on fire.
  2. Never used to hunt Frankenstein.
  3. Rarely used in conjunction with a pitchfork.
  4. Invented 300,000 years later.
  5. Not cheap.
The same resident concluded about the goings-on of the evening, "It was all about kids going wild with technology." Maybe it's just me, but I'm glad that they went wild with iPhones instead of torches.
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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