TELL YOUR PUP YOU LOVE HIM

Natalie Horbachevsky and Brooke Carey. They’re the editrixen listed in the acknowledgements to Leander Kahney’s Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products.

Rather defying the model I used with Design Is a Job, another unedited book, I actually took notes on the lack of editing in Jony Ive. (Or I could have done what I increasingly do: Take a picture of the first mistake, mail it to the author asking for an explanation, get none, close the book, return it to the library, and mark it unread.)

I gave Kahney a chance to read and comment on my error list. I did the same to one of the editrixen – the one who is vaguely reachable via Facebook. No response. (Kahney didn’t respond to an earlier E-mail about the error on pp. 80–81.)

There is an expectation that authors turn in clean, accurate copy. Few do; some simply cannot (Peggy Atwood can’t even spell, Jan Wong discovered). That’s why we have editors. When they turn out to be incompetent, as these two are, you the reader pay the price. If I can spot these mistakes and, with relative ease, keep note of them, how did they survive at least four sets of eyes – Kahney’s, the editrixen’s, and those of “the boss” at Portfolio Books, Adrian Zackheim?

  • 27: “When he arrived, [Clive] Grinyer was amazed to find the apartment filled with more than a hundred foam model prototypes of Jony’s project…. When most students might build half a dozen models, Jony had built a hundred.”

  • I don’t believe the book’s three separate claims (that means one claim incompetently edited) that Apple did and still does use outside model shops.

    • 57: “Today, even a company as big as Apple uses external shops for finished models.”

    • 119–120: “Jony consolidated the model shop into the design studio.”

    • 168 (verb tense sic): “Before presenting ideas to Jobs or another executive, the making of realistic mockups are outsorced to a model shop…. Jony’s group frequently uses Fancy Models Corporation…. ‘Apple spent millions on models made by that company,’ said a former designer,” but there is no fact-checking whatsoever with Fancy Models. Again, I call bullshit.

    Similarly (174), “[a]s was usual for such exploratory, blue-sky projects, Apple went looking for an outside consultant” is a baldfaced claim on which I also call bullshit. (The next paragraph explains how that outside consultant was Tony Fadell. I don’t see how that history is distinguishable from simply hiring Fadell, which is what ended up happening. The idea that Apple as a matter of course farms out the most imaginative projects is absurd.)

  • 69: “talented, ambitious designers were more inclined to go to firms with a strong creative history like the Bay Area’s Ideo…. Over time, Brunner recruited a team of talented designers.”

  • 80–81: “Christopher Stringer… had been raised in the North of England. He attended North Staffordshire Polytechnic…. The impression that they are close friends is enhanced by their shared history; [semicolon sic] both hail from Staffordshire and studied in the north [lower case sic] of England.”

  • Color Classic: “One of [De Iuliis’s] early projects was the Macintosh Color Classic, an update of the original Mac that exuded character and was avidly collected by fans for years” (70:5). “One of the first Espresso products was the Macintosh Color Classic, an update of Steve Jobs’s original Mac, for which De Iuliis is given credit…. Enthusiastic users went crazy for it and turned the machine into a highly collectable [sic] machine” that was probably a couple of things, but chiefly a machine (84:2).

  • 77: Gosh, even the Dutch don’t use the florin anymore.

    On top of all this, Jony was under an extremely tight deadling with enormous pressures to delivƒer.
  • What’s Marj Andresen’s name? Is it Marj Andresen (117, index) or Marjorie Andresen (126, 150)?

  • 154: “The Ice iBook was made of transparent polycarbonate, with a white coating of paint applied to the inside surface…. [T]he Ice iBook cemented the shift in Jony’s design language from multicolored plastics toward plain black-and-white polycarbonate designs…. Jony would transition most of Apple’s consumer products, including the iMac and iPod, to black-and-white polycarbonate casings.”

  • 156: “Customers loved,” indeed, “[s]ome customers went crazy for,” the G4 Cube, except “the public reaction to the new machines was cooler than Jony and Jobs had hoped.” (And Kahney doesn’t deal with the fact the computer would turn itself off if you covered its capacitive power switch.)

  • 159: Yes, we know where the design studio is [on Valley Green Drive “(across the road from Apple’s main campus)”] because you told us that way back on 68.

  • 160: Ive’s favourite chair is the Supporto. “Jony… selected it for the new Industrial Design Centre in Cupertino, California, and for his designers, all of whom sit at Support desks with leather chairs.” In what respect did Apple ever have an Industrial Design Centre (sic)? Isn’t this whole chapter about that? Then why do we have to be told “in Cupertino, California”?

  • I would put the discussion of security at the Industrial Design Center on one page, not spread it over 160 and 163.

  • 160:2: “To the left of the entrance is a well-equipped kitchen with a large table where Jony’s team conducts their biweekly brainstorming sessions.” 166:2: “Weekly meetings ensure the design process is collaborative. Two or three times a week,” hence not actually “weekly,” “Jony’s entire team gathers around the kitchen table for brainstorming sessions.”

  • 167: “Sketching is fundamental to their workflow.” The rest of the page explains how and why. 168:2: “A lot of sketching happens in these weekly sessions.”

  • If you’re going to write in American English, at least commit to it. Perspex is Plexiglas (178, 183). A spirit level is just a level. Aluminium (endlessly discussed: 204, 241, 255:4) is aluminum (198:3). The term anglepoise lamp is, first of all, ridiculous, but is comprehensible only outside the U.S. and Canada and has no analogue in American. (A phrase like “the design of a classic Tizio lamp” [86] is necessary.) Apple’s awarding Ive “a big pay rise” is a claim obviously made by a Brit.

  • Also, Leander Kahney is Irish and, while he may think of people’s heights and weights in Imperial units, for almost everything else he’s used the metric system all his life. Hence what’s an “oz.” (195)? Can Kahney tell me what 0.4 of an “oz.” feels like? (But could he tell me what 100 grams feels like?)

  • 228: Yards of Gorilla Glass? (Furlongs wide? How many “oz.” does it weigh?)

  • 192–193: I’m just wondering if Jony Ive’s Bentley Brooklands is fast and powerful and what its zero-to-60 time is. “It’s another powerful machine, capable of reaching sixty miles per hour from a standing stop in five seconds. As well as being fast and powerful, Aston Martins are known for their innovative production methods. Their cars are built from unusual, lightweight materials like aluminum, magnesium[,] and carbon fiber,” not a one of which is unusual in any way in automotive manufacture. (243: We know about Aston Martin, thanks.)

  • TBWA Chiat Day is just TBWA Chiat Day. Maybe – maybe – it’s TBWA/Chiat/Day (193). It isn’t TBWA\Chiat\Day (128).

  • 194: “Within two years of launch, the iPod was made Windows[‑]compatible (it [sic]) would have been quicker, but acquiescing to Windows was a big psychological barrier for Jobs).” Yes, we know: “The iPod sold only modestly at first and didn’t take off until two years later, when it was made fully compatible with Windows” (185). Yet nowhere are we told about the switch from FireWire, which Windows machines did not have, to USB, which essentially all computers were equipped with by that point.

  • Kahney can’t quite get his head around the idea that a magazine may call itself ICON but is actually Icon, and that the iPod (and Mac) Mini, Shuffle, Nano, and Classic are all written thus (and not in lower case; “iPod Classic” was never lower case). The Duo Dock was written thus (60). (And “split keyboards” did not catch on. I should know.) A Lightning cable is not a lightning cable (239).

  • Semicolon is wrong (194:4); look it up. 196: “no beige please, we’re British” (quotes in original) is mispunctuated no matter how many times you’ve seen it rendered that way. Kahney et al. somehow think it’s classy to write every possible number as a word (and not just in discussing zero-to-60 times): Frog’s “Apple billings rose to more than two million dollars a year” (63).

    Similarly (236), writing out the expansion of ABS (as in plastic) doesn’t make you look smart. ABS is a word, just like JPEG, GPS, and HDPE are.

  • 195:2: “Eventually, Apple was selling a player at every $50 price point between $50 and $550.” Yes, Horace Dediu told us that in 2011: “Including all the pricing options, it’s a very regular pattern. It reminds me of the iPod, which at one time was sold at every $50 increment point from $50 to $500.” I guess that’s not quite plagiarism (and Biz Stone did the same to me once).

  • Massive senior square:

    • 199: “Jobs promoted Jony to senior vice president of industrial design, elevating him to the same senior level as Rubinstein.”

    • 203: “Over the years, Cook fine-tuned the system until it was capable of delivering millions of products in secret just in time for massive product launches, accounting for much of Apple’s massive growth.”

    • 205:2,3: “The Mac Mini looked relatively simple, but its case was surprisingly complex. The Mini’s square case was made from sheet aluminum extruded into a square shape.”

  • Actually, going back to 203–4: Explain how Apple actually can manufacture millions of units of unannounced products in secret. (You can’t.)

  • And going back to 205: Who was the U.S. “manufacturer” or “supplier” of aluminum? (Both terms are used.)

  • 204:2: The TiBook G4 “had to be coated in a metallic paint to protect against scratches and fingerprints, but the paint had a tendency to flake off.” Actually, it wore off, and we know that already because you told us on 153:2.

  • Page 209 is repetitive and contains another of the book’s endless unverified anecdotes.

  • 210: At least the fourth statement that Ive spends weeks or months at a time in China.

  • 238: Unibody manufacturing is so famous we won’t bother to explain what it is for two more pages.

  • 244:3: The paragraph in question is barely intelligible and relies on Jony Ive’s favourite expression from the world of industrial design: “This step is followed by a series of increasingly precise milling operations that create the finished part. The key caps and input ports are cut out. Screw bosses are cut and internal struts and ribs are shaped.” Among other things, you’re saying the Vietnamese, Thai, and Russian “key caps” are “cut out” at this stage? Is that how the keyboard is really manufactured?

  • 256: You keep telling us about CBE and its hierarchy in the Queen’s awards.


I gave up completely at 260, and so should the author have. But I suppose I’m not done yet.

  • Should I even bother asking why a book published in late 2013 acts as though its designer (Alissa Amell) used a leftover PostScript Type 1 font, ITC Giovanni, with nothing but and as ligatures?

  • By far the worst structural failing of this exercise in celebrity biography is the fact that all quotes from Ive derive from previous publications. Kahney had no access whatsoever to Ive, a fact he refuses to actually disclose. (Unless he did so after page 260. I kid: On 274 he blithely states “Apple did not respond to several requests for comment.” This is not a statement of the fact that Jonathan Ive would not talk to Kahney.)

    What neither Kahney nor his incapable editrixen realize is that every single quote from another source, irrespective of whom it’s attributed to, must be fact-checked anew. You have to call up every quoted source and verify that they actually said that (without reading the quote back to them). This will come as a shock, surely even to you. Combined with Kahney’s blandishment about Apple and his “requests for comment,” I contend neither he nor his editrixen actually know how to carry out full, thorough verification of a nonfiction book. That’s why they did not verify this book, according to all indications I can see.

  • How many of the newly-reported facts are even true? Kahney almost plagiarized Horace Dediu; Dediu quoted Kahney while I was putting this list together. The line Dediu quotes from the book (203) refers to Apple’s enterprise resource planning system, which I, a fan of hyphenation, do not think is hyphenated (Kahney does). Here it is: “Later, the ERP was extended into Apple’s own retail stores and became so precise it tracked and reported sales every four minutes.” Citation needed.

    In retrospect, I don’t trust half the “facts” I read in this book, which packs in more malapropisms than Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. (That book was well and truly eviscerated by John Siracusa, but he did that in the evanescent medium of a podcast. He might as well have been talking to somebody on the phone, or muttering in his sleep.) What repetitiveness and warmed-over quotes are to Kahney fundamental technical incomprehension is to Isaacson. (And that carried through yea unto the audiobook, which mispronounced OS X as Oh Ess Eks. “OSX” is how Isaacson wrote it. His editors were incompetent, too.)

  • Also, a question about accuracy in quotation. How many times did sources utter the acronym “ID” instead of saying “industrial design”?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2014.01.16 14:39. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2014/01/16/kahney/

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