re:publica 2013 – R. Trebor Scholz: Digital Labor: New Opportunities, Old Inequalities
While it doesn’t smell or look like labor at all; digital labor is part of the working lives of millions in the U.S., China, Russia, and India. Amazon Mechanical Turk is a thriving marketplace where “folks who have work meet up with folks who seek work,” as CEO Jeff Bezos innocently framed it. Work, as it turns out, is in fact radically atomized and inane zombie labor. Mechanical Turk does not reveal the identity of the employer to the worker and even if workers click away for 60 hours a week, they may have no idea what they’re working on. The vast majority of this mind-numbing click work is exploitative simply because it isn’t humanely possible to make minimum wage.