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å Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Y New report on lack of diversity in Silicon Valley

Sensational lede from Gawker (not a surprise.) Includes direct link to The Information’s report.

The basic breakdown – majority of tech venture capitalists are middle aged white men.

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% Yauheniya Chuyashova completed

In this chapter Ross talks about feminization of labor. Free internships are very popular now our days and it is growing very fast. Internship gives you big opportunities in life but it doesn’t give you any guarantee for your future. Ross talks about how free labor and women are connected. The majority of the unpaid internships are women. Most not paying or law paying jobs and internships belong to women. What people want from free internships is to get a job they like but you have to be very lucky to be able to move into some stable job. I feel like females open to do different types of jobs when men you usually see in finance area: The difficulty for women: “While less than 10% of registered apprentices are female, women tend to dominate the most precarious sectors of white-collar and no-collar employment, and it is no surprise that they are assigned the majority of unpaid internships – 77% according to one survey”. Internship labor “blurs the line between task and contrast, between duty and opportunity and between affective and instrumental work. Women are disproportionately burdened when these kinds of boundaries are eliminated”.

This is very sad but it is a reality. I know a lot of people who have good diplomas from different collages, who did internships but still don’t have jobs. Unfortunately they have to work as waitress and in different clothing stores until they will get lucky and find what they have been looking for, the paid job.

 

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% Diami Virgilio completed

Ross makes an interesting case for the deskilling of labor due to the influence of digital media. When describing the “no collar” volunteer corps that serves as the backbone of much of the digital media industry. These workers would seldom identify as workers because much of their contributions happen in their leisure time and they participate not because they are compelled to for survival or because they are seeking even entrepreneurial success, but rather because they have a passion for the type of work they are doing or are using it as part of a larger patchwork of creative odd jobs. This no-collar labor force is unbound by geography or workspace and participates from code to content level in keeping major websites and projects operational. Sometimes the work is digitally crowdsourced, adopting strict project management parameters for set objectives while in other circumstances, it is simply the act of contributing content to enlarge or enrich a digital experience that serves as an uncompensated form of labor. The content creation in question is often written off as hobby so participants in its creation don’t even see a way in which they could not do the work. This identity entwinement leads to easy paths to exploitation, and is particularly insidious when coupled with high unemployment. Ross makes the case that the consequence of the economic downturn was the growth of a segment of the population eager to gain new skills or keep busy with old ones who came to value opportunities for crowdsourced piecework.

In addition, this culture infects traditional workplaces which allow work from home set-ups in the name of balance, but are in reality promoting anything but, as labor is essentially on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, shackled to emails and other messaging to create small contributions to creative products at the drop of a hat. As usual, the question arises; who benefits? From the perspective of Ross, it seems clear that the answer is nuanced as free labor invariably benefits big corporations, but “can be seen as a kind of tithe we pay to the Internet as a whole so thay expropriators stay away from the parts we really cherish,” (Scholtz, 31) particularly through keeping networks nonproprietary.

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% Joyce Julio completed

In the “Computers Are Not to Blame chapter”, Andrew Ross stated that, “There is no doubt that new media, which has the technical capacity to shrink the price of distribution to almost zero, is hosting the most fast-moving industrial efforts to harness the unpaid effort of participants” (Ross, p. 32). One of the examples that Ross used to show the cheapened and discounted form of labor associated with the rise of digital media was the rise of self-service. Before, when people needed to make phone calls, they have to connect with a telephone operator first. But now, we dial by ourselves. When we call customer service, we often listen and respond to automated voice messages and “robo-voices” instead of an actual customer service representative. It is still possible to speak with an actual representative, but still, it’s a robo-voice who answers the call first. Actual customer service representatives are also outsourced in other countries for lower wages which allows companies to save on costs and reap bigger profits. Another example that Ross used was the reality TV show contestants. They are not considered actors, so they do not receive the same benefits the professional actors do. Even other members of the team working on the reality TV programming such as production assistants, drivers, technical crew, and others are not paid equally as those team members working on scripted movies or shows. They work long hours without meal breaks for the price of half of what the employees on scripted shows are paid without any health or other benefits.

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% Diami Virgilio completed

Post 1.

“Taylorism” (40).

Taylorism is the system created by Frederick Winslow Taylor to analyze and manage the methods of labor engaged in by workers with an eye toward increasing efficiency and production. Taylor termed his methodology scientific management as it entailed tactics such as measuring the distance a worker swung his arm back when operating a hammer, designing the work space so a laborer took a specified amount of steps and keeping a worker moving until all of the day’s labor was complete. Astonishingly, Taylor believed his system was benefiting workers by taking some of the guesswork out of their actions and providing a methodology suited to the limits of the human body. Unfortunately, this system incentivized pushing said body all the way to ninety to a hundred percent of its limits rather than allowing workers any form of non micromanaged freedom of expression. Taylor believed that at heart workers were lazy and that their “soldiering” or loafing led to great losses of production. A system wherein their every moment was controlled would increase production and also inculcate in the worker a routinized form of completing his job that was without guesswork.

Within the digital realm, this is replicated through processes such as mechanical turking where workers perform compartmentalized duties alienated completely from their product accoriding to gamified work specs that really only value low cost micromanaged completion of tasks, not valuation of labor or room for innovation which is typically the province of the management or outsourcer..

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% Farrah Duplessis completed

Taylor labeled chapter 6 “Drawing a Line” and there could not be a more fitting title.  How much of our private life is actually private? Where do we draw the line?  What adds to it is that the majority of the time, our information is being taken and we are absolutely oblivious.  “In a multipart investigation, the Wall Street Journal found that after subjects visited the Web’s fifty most popular Web sites, a total of 3,180 tracking files were installed on its test computers” (Taylor, Loc 2882).  This just proves how much of our information is being tracked for purposes of advertising.  We think that if we use invisible or similar settings our information would be safe. I was not aware of the lengths that they went to get our information or the amount of money spent to do so.  Unfortunately, there is no proof that what we view on our computer will not be accessible by others to sell it.  “It’s getting to the point where we can’t do too much about it….For the foreseeable future, there is no foolproof way to ‘opt out’ except for staying off-line altogether” (Taylor, Loc 2919).  One would assume that would be an easy task but considering most people bank, shop, and gain their education from the internet, it makes it almost impossible to disconnect.  It has gotten to the point where we are offered options to pay in order to avoid advertising, despite the fact that our information is still being taken. It just now holds our credit information.  That aside, the amount of devices that are not properly disposed of are contributing to the amount of e-waste that is already at an incredible high. The misconception is “what these devices deliver –has been peddled as cheap and disposable” (Taylor, Loc 2864). If only that were true and the amount of waste being produced was not as high as it is.The problem is the demand for higher quality and features only increases the amount of undisposable waste.

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% Farrah Duplessis completed

Digital media is definitely complicating our relationship to copyright.  This are too easily accessible and available for it not to be.  I believe us as a people have always struggled with copyrighting and the internet and other forms of digital media have done nothing but simplify the situation.  I recall a time when people would run lines from their neighbor’s antenna to their house to get cable.  They got what they wanted without paying for a cable package.  Then it went on to be people with video cameras in the theaters recording movies to make copies to sell. Now they can download anything from anywhere and make copies from the comfort of their living room in their pajamas.  It becomes an issue of what people think should be paid for and what should be free. “Knowledge cannot be owned and we have a responsibility to share it” (Taylor, Loc 2216). We are in an age that we will seek out information by any means. This also sparks the the conversation as to what can be classified as copyright worthy and what is not.  Money is what makes this is most other countries run so inasmuch as many would like to have people come in contact with their work, their are costs to almost every effort.  “While we all know what ‘expensive’ means, ‘free’ has a fundamental ambiguity, an ambiguity central to the Internet.  Free can mean something that no one can own, that belongs to all. It can also mean free in cost” (Taylor, Loc 2234).  If you cannot classify what free is, then how can you classify what should be copywritten?  Every artist wants to get paid for their work but also wants it to be seen/heard.  At the same time there are areas that should be available and are being restricted and there are those that feel it should not be. I think there will always be those people who will make sure what they want or what they feel others should have, is made available by any means.  If not through digital media, they would create it as they always have.

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% Farrah Duplessis completed

Taylor describes the two realms as selling of goods and services and putting a figure on arts and culture. “Cost disease isn’t anyone’s fault….It’s just endemic to businesses that are labor-intensive” (Taylor,  Loc 675).  This new age values an engineer, contractor or baker over that of a teacher or an artist. This is because artists can now have seen people “paint an appealing(Taylor, Loc 697). Now it becomes more convenient and less expensive so new-media utopians feel as if it’s a favor rather than work. It is an assumed this are things artist should be doing and sharing with others considering “many of them enjoy fame, admiration, social status, and free beer in bars” (Taylor, Loc 732).

That is essentially where the problem lies.  If you are doing or creating something which is a necessity for the growth of others or because some take other payments, not everyone is going to feel those people need to be paid. The bigger problem becomes if this people don’t get paid, being that they need it to survive, then more will venture outside of the field to support themselves diminishing that culture.

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% Farrah Duplessis completed

I do not think the buying and selling of data complicates the way that we differentiate between work and leisure.  I think the only effect it might have is the eventual bombardment of advertising.  In which case, it becomes more of a nuisance rather  than work.  I believe Scholz’s Digital Labor refers to the exchange of getting a “free” service for the cost of your information.  The closest thing to labor is when Scholz says, “ Harry Potter fans produce fan fiction and give their creative work away for free in exchange for being ignored by the corporation that owns the original content” in which case it is not really work if you did not do it expecting to be compensated.  Updating statuses and likes are not considered work either if it is not obviously coming at an actually monetary price.

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% Joyce Julio completed

Ross Definitions: Distributed Labor

According to Andrew Ross, “distributed labor has been suggested as a way of describing the use of the Internet to mobilize the spare processing power of a widely dispersed crowd of discrete individuals” (Ross, p. 29).This term was previously used to describe the way businesses corresponded with employees working from different places at different times and also mobile office. These days, distributed labor is used to describe users who provide their input or content but do not view their contributions as a form of labor. The new kind of distributed labor also includes workers taking on different small tasks requiring minimal concentration only. Unlike the old distributed labor that relied on relocation and cheap labor markets to save costs, the new type of distributed labor that is being used by businesses today save money through remotely hiring employees who are comparatively talented as the employees here in the US at lower costs. “Microtasks” or the jobs that require only little amount of time and/or concentration also allow businesses to save on costs. This type of tasks, however, requires that the task or the job be broken down into small pieces like puzzles and bits. Ross also added that, “Taskers are effectively deskilled, dispersed, and deprived of any knowledge about the nature of the product to which their labor contributes” (Ross, p. 29) Because of this, the person doing the task does not know exactly what the purpose of his job is.