Growing up in the digital age, it is always interesting to read about the time before computers. Technology has drastically changed the way people think, act, and work. In their article “Digital Labor is the New Killer App,” Adam Fish and Ramesh Srinivasan analyze a digital labor outsourcing firm and a television network that relies (or relied at some point) on user- submitted content. The two men attempt to describe what a digital economy means and how digital labor is valued. In the case of Samasource, the outsourcing group, digital labor is outsourced to the poverty-stricken third world. For well-below living wages, a Pakistani woman can perform anything from the simplest clerical tasks to graphic design. The problem is that they label this as “empowering” and “dignified labor,” when the value of the content they produce is so low on their end.
Julia Flanders’ article “Time, Labor, and “Alternate Careers” in Digital Humanities Knowledge Work” actually fits in pretty well with the arguments laid out above. She talks about alternate careers, thrown together with other para-academic fields, that include aspects of digital labor. Where the critics come together is the discussion regarding the value of labor. As a grad student, Flanders realized that aspects of her professional career, such as research and preparing and attending academic conferences, were not as billable as working at an organization although they were important to her personal and professional growth (research is pretty important when working towards a Ph.D!).
Both articles made me think about 1) the value of the digital content other social media users like me freely submit in the form of blogs, video, pictures, etc. as well as 2) what all of this user-generated content is worth to corporations.
This makes me think of Karen Greogory’s article “The Teaching of Labor.” Maybe I should just go off the grid.