2019/07/App-based food delivery has opened up the historically male-dominated line of work to women in India but that has not insulated it from patriarchal norms.
2018/10/03: sellers gain exposure to an enormous audience and higher sales. But they lose some of their ability to maintain their profit margins, putting downward pressure on wages and driving less-efficient companies out of business entirely.
In terms of the economics, which is concerned more with aggregate welfare than equity or fairness to certain individuals, that's not necessarily a bad thing. But it causes pain for those on the the losing end — especially brick-and-mortar businesses that can't compete with Amazon's fast online deliveries, hard-to-beat prices and near-infinite variety. And having created a portal through which so much commerce must flow, Amazon enriches itself by charging a toll along the way.
That's the Amazon Effect.
In a way, Amazon is doing the same thing in its search for a location for its new headquarters. It's treating prospective host cities as if they were sellers on Amazon, drawing them into a bidding war. Those cities are offering up tax breaks and subsidies, even if doing so jeopardizes their future tax revenue and drives up the price of housing for everyone else.
Amazon, and e-commerce more generally, is also disrupting the labor market. Brick and mortar retail jobs are quickly falling behind employment growth for the rest of the economy. It's not yet clear whether all the warehouse pickers and delivery drivers Amazon is hiring to support its ever growing shipping commitments will totally close that gap — especially as Amazon perfects fulfillment center robots and delivery drones in order to reduce its personnel needs in the future.
Although Amazon this week announced a new $15 minimum wage for all its employees, some research suggests that consolidating jobs under fewer large employers tends to reduce wages, not raise them.
2018/09/24: Facebook moderators under contract are “bombarded” with “thousands of videos, images and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder,” the lawsuit said.
Facebook is ignoring its duty to provide a safe workplace and instead creating a revolving door of contractors who are irreparably traumatized by what they witnessed on the job
2018/09/24: The average monthly payments to those who worked for a transportation app in a given month declined to $783 from $1,469. Meanwhile, people working for leasing apps -- Airbnb, Turo, Parklee and other apps that let you rent assets like your home, car or parking space -- saw their incomes from those platforms rise 69 percent to $1,736 on average.
This is happening as online gig work has become more popular, thanks in large part to the growth in the number of transportation jobs. The share of the working population that has participated in the online gig economy at any point in a year rose from less than 2 percent in 2013 to nearly 5 percent in 2018. There are a number of potential reasons why the average pay for gig economy drivers has gone down. It could be any or all of the below, according to JPMorgan: drivers on average are working fewer hours; demand hasn't increased to meet the increased number of drivers; trip prices have fallen; or platforms are paying drivers lower rates.
The fact that this study did not examine hourly earnings, the metric that drivers care most about, has resulted in misleading headlines,” a Lyft spokesperson said in an email. “Many more drivers are choosing to earn with Lyft on a part-time basis, often fewer than ten hours per week, and they tell us they truly value the flexibility Lyft provides.
2017/01/12: "If I was setting up a union today," said Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, "it would be the Union of Web Workers - organising the interests of information workers who use screens and keyboards as the tools of their trade." An interesting thought, though notably not one his or any other political party has pursued.
Others suspect that if the precarious workforce of the sharing economy start organising themselves it's likely to be via a more diffuse medium than anything resembling a 20th-century union. Joining such a traditional organisation would be deeply counter-cultural for many millennials - detached from their experience of work, with little possibility of securing collective bargaining over pay in their fragmented workplace.
If our existing unions are too shackled to the past to reinvent themselves for this task, then other pro-worker, tech-savvy, fleet-of-foot social innovators are likely to step forward. History suggests that sooner or later labour finds ways of responding to changes in how capital organises itself. Maybe that age-old dynamic is all played out - perhaps we've reached the "end of history" in terms of how workers organise.
Possibly, but it's more likely we're witnessing a painfully slow adjustment, one that will - eventually - give rise to new forms of post-industrial organisation that will usurp the old.
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They will need it. New York is only the latest city, following London, Paris and a number of others, to put restrictions on ride-hailing, which has turned urban transport upside down. I see it from both sides. In New York, finding rides in outer boroughs has become exponentially easier thanks to Uber and Lyft. I take multiple trips per week and I am considering giving up my car altogether (if you wonder why, read Calvin Trillin's novel about parking in New York).rnrnOn the other hand, traffic does seem worse, and anyone who invested in a traditional taxi medallion - which used to sell for more than $1m and have since plunged to low six figures - has lost out. That is what technology does, of course. Just ask the Luddites. The problem is that while 21st-century technology has reshaped many industries, labour laws remain stuck in the 19th century. No wonder numerous despondent taxi drivers have committed suicide. If we want the "sharing economy" to live up to its name, the platform technology companies that benefit the most from it have to do just that - share.rnrnBoth technical and existential changes are required. At core, we should give up on the fantasy that the gig economy somehow eliminates issues of power between workers and companies. Contractors who work via Uber, or any other "on-demand" platform do have more independence, and surveys show they like it. Uber plays this up, with ads in which a prosperous looking young white man smiles from a sunlit car, over the tagline "Freedom Pays Weekly." He might be a teacher on summer break making an extra buck in his spare time.rnrnIn reality, most Uber drivers are black, Asian or Latino and making below minimum wage. And, on the whole, algorithmic management puts dramatically more power in the hands of platform companies. Not only can they monitor workers 24/7, they benefit from enormous information asymmetries that allow them to suddenly deactivate drivers with low user ratings, or take a higher profit margin from riders willing to pay more for speedier service, without giving drivers a cut.rnRecommendedrnSarah O'ConnorrnLet gig workers control their data toornrnThis is not a properly functioning market. It is a data-driven oligopoly that will further shift power from labour to capital at a scale we have never seen before. It is not only taxi drivers that are being "uberised" but radiologists, lawyers, contractors and accountants. All these services can now be accessed at cut rates via platforms.rnrnRather than wait for more regulatory pushback, platform tech companies should take responsibility now for the changes they have wreaked - and not just the positive ones. That requires an attitude adjustment. Many tech titans have a libertarian bent that makes them dismissive of the public sector as a whole. Uber became infamous for simply going into new markets guerrilla style, disrupting first and asking questions later. (It is now trying to change its reputation under Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced Mr Kalanick last year.)rnrnYet the potential benefits of ride-hailing and sharing - from less traffic to less pollution - cannot actually be realised unless the tech companies work with the public sector. One can imagine companies like Uber co-operating with city officials to phase in vehicles slowly, rolling out in underserved areas first, rather than flooding the most congested markets and creating a race to the bottom.rnrnThe same goes for other sorts of platforms, like Airbnb. That company often touts its ability to open up new neighbourhoods to tourism, but research shows that in cities like New York, most of its business is done in a handful of high end areas - and the largest chunk by commercial operators with multiple listings, with the effect of raising rents and increasing the strains caused by gentrification. Officially Airbnb has a "one host, one home" policy in New York, but better enforcement is needed.rnrnOn the labour side, too, the platform companies must take responsibility for the human cost of disruption. New York University professor Arun Sundararajan, has proposed allowing companies to create a "safe harbour" training fund that provides benefits and insurance for drivers and other on-demand workers without triggering labour laws that would categorise such workers as full-time employees (which is what companies want to avoid).rnrnIt is a hedge, but it would give both sides time to craft new rules of the road for the on-demand economy to ensure it does not become a zero-sum game.
Arthur Miller's classic 1949 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Death of a Salesman opens with musical direction: "A melody is heard, played upon a flute. It is small and fine, telling of grass and trees and the horizon. The curtain rises." The play follows Willy Loman, past 60, as his grasp on life crumbles amid job troubles. When, at the end of Act II, he reaches his beaten-down end, the melody soars again, this time a requiem. "Only the music of the flute," writes Miller, "is left on the darkening stage ." I heard this flute's dirge throughout last summer and fall, as I made the rounds talking with downsized journalists-men and women who had gotten hooked on the profession as young, ink-stained idealists, only to find themselves cast out in mid- or later life. These veterans spoke of forced buyouts and failed job searches-of lost purpose, lost confidence, even lost homes. I had known of the decimation of my profession: I'd read the statistics, seen the news articles, watched old friends pushed from jobs as bureau chiefs, editors, senior reporters, into the free fall of freelance. But the texture of their Lomanesque despair surprised me. There were some grim moments. Continue reading
From microchip implants to wristband trackers and sensors that can detect fatigue and depression, new technology is enabling employers to watch staff in more and more intrusive ways. How worried should we be?
Last Friday I was invited by Uber to participate in a day-long seminar on platforms and the future of work at their London headquarters.
Flaminio de Castelmur per @SpazioEconomia Cosa unisce la musica jazz con il lavoro nella new economy? Poco, tranne il termine gig che fin dall'inizio del '900 rappresentava l'ingaggio di una serata (abbreviando forse il termine engagement). Saltuario come tutti gli ingaggi degli artisti nella musica. Utilizzò il termine anche Hillary Clinton durante la Campagna Elettorale del
2018/01/16: A new answer could change how we think about unions, monopolies, and the minimum wage.
Antonio Casilli, a professor at Télécom ParisTech, is considered one of the leading experts in the capitalism of digital platforms. He was interviewed by Roberto Ciccarelli. "We are the ones who make the robots, with our own labour," he says. "We make the criteria according to which they operate. And then we teach them to learn how to improve. The problem is not that robots are stealing our work, but that we continue to work more and more, and that the platforms are fragmenting and rendering invisible the labour that is necessary to make the algorithms work."
2017-11-20: Skedaddle is not going to eliminate Yelp or Facebook or tipping. It's not going to be "the first cryptocurrency for real world use." But at some level they're not wrong! One day 20 years from now we'll wake up and all of our interactions and performance will be tracked on the blockchain and will directly determine our income and socioeconomic status, and on the one hand we'll get pretty good customer service, but on the other hand we'll be terrified all the time. It is the logical endpoint of the "gig economy."
Instead of freedom, workers at companies like Uber have encountered low wages and coercion.
The main difference between the Old Left and the Alt-Left is that the latter focuses more on the cultural, behavioral and psychological sides of economic life. In a world where material resources a...
Makers, foodsheds, poor to poor energy and so much more in this transcript of John Thackara's keynote presentation on the Next Economy
2017/03/31: Maybe you deleted the Uber app when they scabbed the deportation protest in New York, then re-installed it the next day because convenience outweighed your momentary dalliance with having principles. So here's a brief round-up of reasons why you should have stopped giving them your money years ago.
I had hoped that I could just find someone else's round-up of all the reasons, but now I understand why I couldn't: there are so many and it's such a moving target.
External pressure has led to delivery giant, Hermes, being referred to the chief tax man over whether or not its workers should be classified as 'self-employed'.
Freelance collectives -- stronger together.