What exactly is a “fair” phone? When can I buy one? Who are the people behind the scenes? How the hell do you even make a smartphone?
These were some of the questions I’ve been wondering to myself and talking to friends about as I’ve gotten to know FairPhone. You see, I’ve just recently come on the team, as the Community Manager, and I see my position as a mix of writing, gathering, and delivering content to you, our community, and engaging you to bring you in the fold.
We want FairPhone to truly be a community-sourced phone. I’ve come to the organization at an exciting time where the product is firm enough to become a reality but open enough so opinions can still be voiced and taken into account.
My background is in New Media studies at the University of Amsterdam where I’m finishing my thesis on brands and social media this spring. I’ve taken courses ranging from data visualization to software studies with the common thread of dealing with topics involving society, media, and technology. My interest in FairPhone stemmed from their approach to creating an alternative to an often-mysterious, closed-off brand of mobile technology.
I see FairPhone’s goal simply as this: making interventions in the current smartphone supply chain.
Since I’m interested in researching problems in media and society, it became clear to me that producing and consuming electronics in an unconscious, unengaged way is at best lazy, at worst unethical. Just as other movements, like Fair Trade, have instigated a closer look at where our food, fruit, and coffee comes from, we also want to take the first step in questioning how we source and produce an object that has become accepted and habitual in our everyday lives – our phones.
Although I have a background in media studies and social media, I – like yourselves – am new to the FairPhone product and vision. Although I’m rapidly learning everything I’d ever want to know about conflict-free tin and fair labor practices in China, I’m also trying to keep a fresh perspective on what we do and how best to share the product with our community. As much as I’m a part of the FairPhone team, I’m also in the position of taking a critical look at our own processes to make the product more accessible and transparent to you all.
Over the past months, we’ve gathered your specific questions and compiled a FAQ that you can find here. We even try to briefly answer how the hell you make a phone!
But I also want to take this space to invite you to extend the FAQ and create a discussion on topics that interest you – send us an e-mail, or follow and send a message to us on Twitter. In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing my experiences in the company – trying to be as transparent about our work as possible – as well as fielding questions and concerns from you all.
Feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m eager to hear what kind of FairPhone you want!
Art credit “Online Communities” by Randall Munroe of xkcd.com