Brave new-old world – gig economy as scientific management

They’re gonna be disrupted, yeah! Because your lives are being disrupted, yeah! This is the money you need to live!

An interesting article in the FT: “When your boss is an algorithm“, in which (if you ignore the sort of anthropomorphism of “the algorithm” and its apparently supreme agency) the author,  , draws out the similarity between the claims of efficiency etc. made for ‘gig economy’ -type work platforms, such as Uber and Deliveroo, are very similar to Taylorism:

Algorithmic management” might sound like the future but it has uncanny echoes from the past. A hundred years ago, a new theory called “scientific management” swept through the factories of America. It was the brainchild of Frederick W Taylor … Taylor wanted to replace this “rule of thumb” approach with “the establishment of many rules, laws and formulae which replace the judgment of the individual workman”. To that end, he sent managers with stopwatches and notebooks on to the shop floor. They observed, timed and recorded every stage of every job, and determined the most efficient way that each one should be done. “Perhaps the most prominent single element in modern scientific management is the task idea,” Taylor wrote in his 1911 book The Principles of Scientific Management. “This task specifies not only what is to be done but how it is to be done and the exact time allowed for doing it.”

Exemplified by the following excerpt articulating the experience of a Deliveroo driver, Kyaw, which is, in turn, of course similar to the kinds of working conditions of other delivery drivers and Amazon warehouse pickers (as has been covered widely in the press)…

Kyaw whips out his phone. The app expects him to respond to new orders within 30 seconds. The screen shows a map and address for the local Carluccio’s, an Italian restaurant chain. A swipe bar says “Accept delivery”. That is the only option. The algorithm will not tell him the delivery address until he has picked up the food from Carluccio’s. Deliveroo couriers are assigned fairly small geographic areas but Kyaw says sometimes the delivery address is way outside his allocated zone. You can only decline an order by phoning the driver support line. “They say, ‘No, you have to do it, you already collected the food.’ If you want to return the food to the restaurant they mark it as a driver refusal — that’s bad.”

Gary Hall > Ten Ways To Affirmatively Disrupt The Sharing Economy ♯3: Become a Microdatapreneur

Interesting from Gary Hall… lots to think through politically here, as with blockchain-like, more-or-less libertarian, strategies for a new “new economy” (as per the Post-Fordists)…  and possibly relevant to the recent interest in “digital” labour in geography…

part of a series of posts in which I provide ten proposals as to how to affirmatively disrupt ubercapitalism and the corporate sharing economy. Together these posts constitute the draft of a text provisionally titled Data Commonism, designed to follow on from my recently published short book, The Uberfication of the University. If the latter provides a dystopian sense of what is lying in store for many us over the course of the next few years, Data Commonism is more optimistic in that it shows what we can do about it. 

[We can disrupt the sharing economy by] by working toward the kind of “universal micropayment system” Jaron Lanier envisages in Who Owns The Future: “If observation of you yields data that makes it easier for… a political campaign to target voters with its message, then you ought to be owed money for the use of that valuable data.” In this system we would be paid for the data we generate if it turns out to be valuable. Our relationship with the platforms of the for-profit sharing economy would thus take the form of a “two-way” financial transaction in which we all “benefit, concretely, with real money,” rather than just a few San Francisco-based entrepreneurs and investors.

A universal micropayment system may result in some degree of financial redistribution. But while it provides a means of reuniting data with those users who produce it […] there is not really all that much we can do with our own small amounts of data. How much leverage would we have when it comes to negotiating a price for it, bearing in mind most of us will have to rely on these companies to determine for us the extent to which our data […] has actually contributed to a political campaign aimed at targeting voters, to stay with Lanier’s example?

for Clare Birchall, it is not at all “clear that data belongs to us in the first place in order for it then to be given or taken”–or monetized, in this case. Instead, “we are within a dynamic sharing assemblage: always already sharing data with human or non-human agents.” Birchall introduces the term “shareveillance” to describe the “condition of consuming shared data and producing data to be shared in ways that shape” what she refers to as an “an ascendant shareveillant subjectivity.” This is a “subject who is at once surveillant (veiller ‘to watch’ is from the Latin vigilare, from vigil, ‘watchful’) and surveilled. To phrase it with a slightly different emphasis: the subject of shareveillance is one who simultaneously works with data and on whom the data works.”

CFP> Fear and Loathing of the Online Self, Rome, May 22-23, 2017

Via Institute of Network Cultures… looks interesting… be good to see a wider variety of folks ‘participating’…

Fear and Loathing of the Online Self–A Savage Journey into the Heart of Digital Cultures

Call for Participation
Conference, Rome, May 22-23, 2017
http://networkcultures.org/online-self/

We would like to invite artists and researchers to submit proposals to join this event hosted by  John Cabot University and Universita degli Studi RomaTre in Rome, and organized in collaboration with the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam.

The conference aims at exploring the state of the online self by raising questions about its status as a focal point of contemporary power/networks. Is the online self merely a product of software predictability and viral marketing? Is there any space left for self-determination? Or should we search elsewhere for new forms resistance by changing our political categories and perspectives? Which contradictions are at play? How and where can we locate the spaces of performativity of the online self?

Critical political-economic readings of platform capitalism do not explain nor grasp new forms of (visual) online subjectivity. There is a growing gap between the obsessive quest for measurability, big data and algorithmic regimes (such as AI/bots),and critical investigations of an emerging variety of compulsive forms taken by the online self. We need to fill this gap and bring them back together. If a humanities approach of Internet studies nurtured by artistic and activist practices aims to survive the ‘big data’ onslaught from the social sciences, then it is vital to ask what the citizen-as-user wants. To portray the population as (innocent or guilty) victims of the data monopolies is, politically speaking, a dead-end street.

The cynical condition rules: we know we’re under surveillance, yet we continue to click, like, love and share ourselves online as usual. We are told by concerned experts and libertarians that our privacy “matters” and we want to believe it; yet it silently confers a guilty stigma upon another vital need, to engage socially and culturally with others. While some preach the offline escape as a way out, most of us are so deeply invested in the everyday social media life that it is inconceivable for most of us to  leave Facebook and the like. And this not only out of desire but necessity: networking and self-sharing has become imperative for succesfully managing the double binds of the immaterial labour economy. Instead, we’d rather deal with peculiar pathologies, such as addiction, depression and solitude generated by hyper-connection and lack of connections.

Abstracts and proposals are welcome to contribute to the following sections:

1. ONLINE SUBJECTIVITY THEORY

How much free room do we have to design new identities? What aesthetic and philosophic paths and patterns does meme distribution hint at? What is the role of theory and criticism, if any, in the ever changing yet endless production of the latest user affordances, from dating sites, Tinder swipes and Snapchat lenses, to Pokemon-Go? Can we still attempt to design new modes of subjectivity, or has our role withdrawn to a mere Cassandra-like gloom and doom prediction of digital catastrophes, while start-ups (read: future monopolies) have all taken over the cool business of designing and shaping the online self?

2. BEHIND AND BEYOND SELFIES

It is easy to diagnose the selfie as a symptom of a growing narcissism of our daily digital obsessions. But how do we get beyond the predictable split between the politically correct assessment of empowerment (of young girls) against the nihilist reading of self-promotion and despair? Does criticism of today’s photography of the everyday life always have to end up giving medical prescriptions and recipes of wellbeing? What could a materialist reading of large databases and facial recognition techniques (including protection) that goes beyond media archaeology (the historical approach) and the ever-changing pop gestures involve and say? Can we still talk about the liberation of the self in the age of digital self-generation of the images?

3. ARTISTIC PRACTICES OF THE ONLINE SELF

Artists play an important role in the anticipation, and critique, of new modes of the self. What role does the artistic imagination play beyond the creative industries paradigm? How can artistic and creative avant garde practices help disrupt the trite quantitative approach and the dogma of the algorithm in defining modes and moods of the onlife self? What separates a (properly) artistic imagination and the aesthetic imagination of the online curators of selfie-constructed personas and are contemporary critical paradigms merely reproducing an understanding of online practices that are aligned with the requirements of corporation?

4. POLITICS AND AESTHETICS OF MASK DESIGN

Masks and selfies should not be seen as opposites as they both represent different modes (and moods) of being of the self. Masks create spaces of performance; they are playful and seductive (or scary) forms of self-representation that ultimately do not protect us against the computational repression of the security apparatus. What are the lessons learned from the Anonymous movement? We should come to a new social contract between the individuals, groups and the cybernetic machine. In the meanwhile, how can we make sure to protect us, and what premises are hidden in the numerous crypto-design projects that circulate?

Confirmed speakers: Wendy Chun, Ana Peraica, Jodi Dean, Marco Deseriis, Gabriella Coleman, Daniel de Zeeuw, Rebecca Stein, Vito Campanelli, Franco Berardi.

Editorial Team: Donatella Della Ratta (John Cabot University), Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures/HvA), Teresa Numerico (Universita degli Studi RomaTre), Peter Sarram (John Cabot University).

Please send your proposal (max 500 words in word/pdf format), a short bio and any other material that could support your idea visually  (artwork, film links, etc) to selfieconference@johncabot.edu.  Deadline: March 1, 2017.

Reblog> Social Justice in an Age of Datafication: Launch of the Data Justice Lab

Via The Data Justice Lab.

Social Justice in an Age of Datafication: Launch of the Data Justice Lab

The Data Justice Lab will be officially launched on Friday, 17 March 2017. Join us for the launch event at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at 4pm. Three international speakers will discuss the challenges of data justice.

The event is free but requires pre-booking at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/social-justice-in-an-age-of-datafication-launching-the-data-justice-lab-tickets-31849002223

Data Justice Lab — Launch Event — Friday 17 March 4pm — Cardiff University

Our financial transactions, communications, movements, relationships, and interactions with government and corporations all increasingly generate data that are used to profile and sort groups and individuals. These processes can affect both individuals as well as entire communities that may be denied services and access to opportunities, or wrongfully targeted and exploited. In short, they impact on our ability to participate in society. The emergence of this data paradigm therefore introduces a particular set of power dynamics requiring investigation and critique.

The Data Justice Lab is a new space for research and collaboration at Cardiff University that has been established to examine the relationship between datafication and social justice. With this launch event, we ask: What does social justice mean in age of datafication? How are data-driven processes impacting on certain communities? In what way does big data change our understanding of governance and politics? And what can we do about it?

We invite you to come and participate in this important discussion. We will be joined by the following keynote speakers:

Virginia Eubanks (New America), Malavika Jayaram (Digital Asia Hub), and Steven Renderos (Center for Media Justice).

Virginia Eubanks is the author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age (MIT Press, 2011) and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (SUNY Press, 2014). She is also the cofounder of Our Knowledge, Our Power (OKOP), a grassroots economic justice and welfare rights organization. Professor Eubanks is currently working on her third book, Digital Poorhouse, for St. Martin’s Press. In it, she examines how new data-driven systems regulate and discipline the poor in the United States. She is a Fellow at New America, a Washington, D.C. think tank and the recipient of a three-year research grant from the Digital Trust Foundation (with Seeta Peña Gangadharan and Joseph Turow) to explore the meaning of digital privacy and data justice in marginalized communities.

Malavika Jayaram is the Executive Director of the Digital Asia Hub in Hong Kong. Previously she was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she focused on privacy, identity, biometrics and data ethics. She worked at law firms in India and the UK, and she was voted one of India’s leading lawyers. She is Adjunct Faculty at Northwestern University and a Fellow with the Centre for Internet & Society, India, and she is on the Advisory Board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Steven Renderos is Organizing Director at the Center for Media Justice. With over 10 years of organizing experience Steven has been involved in campaigns to lower the cost of prison phone calls, preserving the Open Internet, and expanding community owned radio stations. Steven previously served as Project Coordinator of the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project, an initiative focused on improving the quality and quantity of media coverage and representation of Latinos in Minnesota. He currently serves on the boards of Organizing Apprenticeship Project and La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles. Steven (aka DJ Ren) also hosts a show called Radio Pocho at a community radio station and spins at venues in NYC.

The event will be followed by a reception.

Reblog> Free Download: Digital Rights to the City

Via Mark Purcell.

2017-02-06-103004_550x790_scrot

Free Download: Digital Rights to the City

Published Today: Our Digital Rights to the City

Free to download (pdf, epub, mobi): http://meatspacepress.org/

 

‘Our Digital Rights to the City’ is a small collection of articles about digital technology, data and the city. It covers a range of topics relating to the political and economic power of technologies that are now almost inescapable within the urban environment. This includes discussions surrounding security, mapping, real estate, smartphone applications and the broader idea of a ‘right to the city’ in a post-digital world.

The collection is edited by Joe Shaw and Mark Graham and its contributing authors are Jathan Sadowski, Valentina Carraro, Bart Wissink, Desiree Fields, Kurt Iveson, Taylor Shelton, Sophia Drakopoulou and Mark Purcell.

Please follow us @meatspacepress

Join our mailing list at http://meatspacepress.org/

‘Our Digital Rights to the City’ also available free at:

* Free to download (epub, most e-readers): epub

* Free to download (pdf): pdf

* Free to download (mobi, for Kindle): mobi

* Free to read (pdf): Here

Affective capitalism – a theme issue

Via Tony Sampson.

A theme issue of the journal ephemera on ‘affective capitalism‘, which is probably of interest to some folk in geographyland.

Affective capitalism is understood in this special issue as a mode of production where systems of organising production and distribution rely on the capacities of different bodies, human and non-human, to encounter each other. These encounters and different modes of capital that emerge are surrounded by a vast array of technologies of production, capture, valorisation, commodification and transformation. Affective capitalism appeals to our desires, it needs social relationships, and organises and establishes them. The theme issue offers a variety of theoretical approaches to analysing formations of affect in contemporary capitalism. The issue includes ten essays that address ways of capturing affect in different contexts, such as debt, media and popular culture, brain research, humanitarianism, and pedagogy.

See the whole theme issue (incl. open access PDF)

CFP> Journal of Peer Production Special Issue #11: CITY – Abstracts due 31 Jan 2017

CFP JOPP Special Issue #11: CITY – Abstracts due 31 Jan 2017

Editors: Penny Travlou, Nicholas Anastasopoulos, Panayotis Antoniadis

Call for papers

One of the welfare state’s key jurisdictions was to tend to housing and public space in benevolent ways. However, under the neoliberal dogma, commodification and gentrification threatens both the right to housing and the right to the city while in recent years, cities have become increasingly militarized and surveyed, resembling battlegrounds where freedom and democracy are under attack. At the same time, recent economic, political, and social crises have activated many counter-forces of resistance and creative alternatives for the grassroots production of food, health services, housing, networking infrastructures, and more.

The role of technology has been contradictory as well. On the one hand, the Internet has enabled some of the most remarkable peer production success stories at a global scale, such as Wikipedia and Free and Open Source Software, among many others. On the other hand, it has empowered huge corporations like Facebook and Google to fully observe and manipulate our everyday activities, and oppressive governments to censor and surveil their citizens.

At the city scale, technology offers opportunities for self-organization, like wireless community networks and numerous bottom-up techno-social initiatives, but also animates the top-down narrative of the “smart city” and the commodification of the “sharing economy as a service” provided by globally active platforms such as Airbnb and Uber. In this situation, peer production in space emerges as a vital bottom-up practice reclaiming citizen participation, and inventing new forms of community.

In this context, some core challenges arise:
– If we choose not tο rely on global players to provide peer production support at a local scale, how could different areas of peer production in the city, digital and physical, interact and support each other?
– What types of governance models can adequately support peer production in the city?

To address those challenges one needs to take into consideration the following:
– Lessons learned from the Internet and how they may be incorporated in the context-specific realities of the city.
– Knowledge-transfer methodologies across different localities.
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations (urban studies, media studies, sociology, architecture, cultural geography, informatics etc.).
– Possible collaborations and synergies between activists that fight for the “right to the city” and those that fight for the “right to the Internet”.
-Knowedge/experience transfer between non-urban settings (i.e. intentional communities, ecocommunities, the Transition movement, etc.) and the urban movements.
– Inquiry into research methods and methodologies to be developed and used for analysing ICT-mediated peer production in urban space.

This special issue aims to explore a wide variety of alternative and innovative peer practices, like urban agriculture, food sustainability, solidarity economy, right to the city movements, cooperative housing, community networks, P2P urbanism tactics, co-design practices and more, that are directly reflected in the production of urban space. We are particularly interested in novel combinations of theory, methodologies, and practices that can contribute to peer production in the city and enable new synergies between projects and communities.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
– Urban commons and peer production
– Case studies of innovative peer practices approached from different perspectives
– Comparative case studies on patterns of commoning and think-global / act-local methodologies
– The regional dimension: examples from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
– Political issues of autonomy, hegemony, labour, gender, geopolitical and post-colonial perspectives
– Alternative forms of education and learning tools for promoting self-organization and community
– Innovative governance tools for peer production in the city
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methodological approaches
– Urban studies and the right to the (hybrid) city
– Open source urbanism/architecture
– Recycling/upcycling vs buying: making, consuming or prosuming the city?

Important dates
Abstract submission: 31 January 2017
Notification to authors: 15 February 2017
Submission of full paper: 15 May 2017
Reviews to authors: 15 July 2017
Revised papers: 15 September 2017
Signals due: 10 October 2017
Issue release: October/November 2017

Submission guidelines
Abstracts of 300-500 words are due by January 31, 2017 and should be sent to city@peerproduction.net>. All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines. See http://peerproduction.net/peer-review/process/. Full papers and materials are due by May 15, 2017 for review. Peer reviewed papers should be around 8,000 words. We also welcome experimental, alternative contributions, like testimonies, interviews and artistic treatments, whose format will be discussed case by case with the editors.

*This special issue was initiated during the Hybrid City III (Athens) conference and developed further during the IASC Urban Commons (Bologna) and Habitat III (Quito) conferences.

When design fiction becomes the advert(?) Amazon Go and the refiguring of trust

I think I’ve been late to this. I saw the story about Barclaycard wanting to do “cardless” credit cards but, of course, Amazon want to vertically integrate. See the first video below. Interesting that this is incredibly similar to previous ‘envisionings’ of “the future” of retail/shopping. The first thing I thought was: ‘hang on, this is  Microsoft circa 2004’, see the second video below… and I’m sure there’s been others, not least from the likes of HP Labs… I wonder where patents lie on this stuff, cos that will be a big bargaining chip.

This is interesting though insofar as, when I was writing about the Microsoft Office Labs videos in 2008/9, the ‘future’ they figured was always positioned at some distance, it was certainly not explicitly stated that this is something you should definitely expect to happen, more a kind of ‘mood music’ to capture some sensibilities of a possible future, by representing it and hooking ideas into our general  imagination of technology and society. It certainly plays on the trope of the normalisation of heavy surveillance… what else can such a system be?

The Amazon Go video is an interesting confluence of lots of contemporary trends in attempts to refigure how we imagine digital technology. Implicit in the video is a normalisation of yet-more automation (of payment, of trust). Explicit here, as already mentioned, is that these kinds of places are not ‘private’ in any way – the system “knows” you, will know your habits, manages your money and that’s ok, in fact – it’s apparently preferable (trust, again).

Amazon seem to be fairly aggressively pushing this, taking the smooth apparently effortless aesthetics of many tech design fiction videos and using this as a means to capture the idea that such technology = Amazon. Apparently there is a “beta” shop in Seattle (where else?). No doubt someone will already be writing a journal article about this as code/space and, of course it is (and just as Kitchin & Dodge suggest about airports – I wouldn’t want to be in this shop when the servers go down), but I think the thing I find more interesting is that it seems to me that this is perhaps an overtly political manoeuvre to capture the public story about what ‘currency’ is and how payment works when we take for granted higher levels of automation, through what kinds of institution and who we can trust. This is quite a different story to the blockchain, Amazon seem to be saying “let us handle the trust issue” – a pitch usually made by a bank, or PayPal…  That might be interesting to think about (I’m sure people, like Rachel O’Dwyer, already are), not least in relation to other ways ‘trust’ is being addressed (and attempts are being made to refigure it) by other companies, institutions and groups.

All this means I’ll definitely be re-writing my lecture about money for the next iteration of my “Geographies of Technology” module next term…