The likes of Apple and Facebook were once scrappy start-ups battling to transform how we communicate and handle information. Now, between the outpouring of grief following the death of Steve Jobs, Facebook’s impending IPO, and the fact that nearly every pocket or bag in the land contains these firms’ products, they’re more institutions than insurgents. So perhaps now that the dream these firms were selling has become the ubiquitous present, it’s time to look at what we’ve actually got.This comes in the form of hand-wringing about what our digital lifestyles do to our relationships. (Here’s a college kid who went Luddite for three months, deactivating his cell phone, e-mail, and social networks. Chalk, notes, and stopping by made a resurgence.) But it also comes in the form of a more critical examination of the start-up mania that these firms’ astounding success have ushered in. How many young people are inspired to dream of founding businesses by the incredible success of seemingly normal(ish) Mark Zuckerberg? Do these start-up dreams have under-discussed costs?
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