Part 2: Ross reading

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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