July 01, 2007

We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves one of those gizmos

The consumer electronics marketers have had their Woodstock, and so, after their various fashions, have journalism, gamers, physicists, open-source, and evolution science. Capitalism has its every year at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, and the members of the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, Washington) Astronomy Club have theirs on the grounds of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory in Hanford, WA. Still, it's a rare event that can lay claim to being the Woodstock for an entire generation:

Earlier Friday afternoon, it was a techie Woodstock outside the Burlingame store, complete with lawn chairs, laptops, "smart" water vendors and an overwhelming sense of camaraderie as about 150 people waited in line outside the Burlingame Avenue store. Oakland Tribune

It appeared that the true believers were gathering in Palo Alto, where the Apple Store became a destination site for techno-pilgrimages. Atkinson, who left Apple in 1990, said he just dropped by Thursday night to check out the line and ended up sending his daughter home for a sleeping bag. "You know, I missed Woodstock,'' Atkinson said. "But I wanted to be a part of this.'' San Francisco Chronicle

Is experiential retail the new Woodstock? Are tech writers the new rock stars? "Inside Chatter"

Just another of the wearily ironic snowclones that journalists keep pulling out of their lunchpails, I'd have said.

But when the going gets tough, ironists aren't conspicuous among the people who are willing to spend 48 hours sitting in a lawn chair on the sidewalk waiting to buy a new telephone:

Camping out last night at the Palo Alto Apple store was not about an iPhone. It was about an experience. Something that I value far more than my new iPhone. There were many highlights for me. Listening to Kristopher react to having traded nods with Steve Jobs. When we left the Apple store we crossed paths with Jobs. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't even notice. Kristopher did though and he traded nods and a wink with Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs has been a long-time hero of Kristopher's. It was an intensely powerful emotional thing for him. One of the best days of his life I'm sure.

True, the total number of people who were waiting in line at Apple stores across the country was probably about 498,000 short of the half a million that legend ascribes to Woodstock. But within a generation it's a fair bet that the ranks of those who claim to have been there will exceed the 12 million boomers who claim to have been at Woodstock, or even the 17 million or so who say they were present in Hershey, Pennsylvania on March 2, 1962, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the Knicks. Well, okay, not there actually, but "there." As in, "Were you really in line at the i-phone launch, daddy?" "Well, no, son, but I eventstreamed it." Posted by Geoff Nunberg at July 1, 2007 02:47 PM