“Will this hire be a good one?”

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Having spent about five years working on and off on an internal, staff evaluation project that was known colloquially as “Moneyballin’,” I’m skeptical that our movement will adopt these recruitment techniques anytime soon. But employers, generally, really want to know: “will this hire be a good one?”

From Partners

The Center for Effective Government just released this new report on the pensions of the 1/%… as they, of course, lobby for retirement insecurity for the rest of us.

Unite, the UK union, has an app for members to get information about their union—and for non-members to have a quick way to join. Are any US unions doing something similar?

A couple of weeks ago, we linked to EPI’s blog post about robots in the workforce & their impact on wage inequity—here’s the full report, now online. (PS—I don’t blame the robots. I blame the CEOs.)

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Are ride-sharing services becoming better versions of gypsy cabs? Here are two articles that argue they’re moving away from the “community” model, at least in CA.

So you wanna start a worker-owned co-op of knowledge-based freelancers? Start here.

Uber wants more people to buy cars. Well, until they the can figure out the self-driving car thing. Then, no doubt, they’ll be helping robots get loans.

I only wanna live in a cloud country if we can call it Cloud Cuckooland.

Geeking Out

Sure Apple’s new fingerprint ID is cool—but what if your phone could identify you by the blood vessels in your eyes? Here’s hoping the security on THAT database is at an all-time high.

First, you can have sushi served by a robot in Japan, then jet on over to China for a stay in the robot hotel.

Organizing Theory

Paid sick leave is an important fight that many of us are engaged in right now, and it’s a particularly pressing one for working moms. But what about the fight to know your work schedule in advance?

Want to attack wage inequity? How about a ballot initiative, capping the pay of CEOs to what the president makes? Yes, the President of the United States. It’s gonna be quite a pay cut, for some.

As the parent of a 14-year-old, my involvement in anything makes it less cool. So maybe I won’t start taking 3-finger salute selfies, in the hopes that my kid and her friends WILL be joining this effort by the Harry Potter Alliance.

The Singularity Approaches

Scientists have started using software to comb through thousands of research papers to make connections that can lead to new discoveries, quicker. I guess it’s only a matter of time before software will replace me, in writing this blog!

I can’t wait till I can send a robot to do ALL my work travel for me…

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

The freelance economy is winning—not just in the US—and a cloud-based freelancer system makes an IPO.

Arizona State University is moving to online learning in the classroom—so instead of lecturing, instructors wander the class helping students who are stuck in specific problems. This seems like an interesting hybrid of MOOC and old-school pedantry.

Employee ownership takes many forms. In the tech industry, it gets granted as equity shares in a company. Here’s one approach of how to do it in a way that keeps low-seniority workers invested in staying for the long haul.

Phlebotomists beware—Walgreen’s wants you not to have to deal with rolling veins anymore. Or, really, any blood draws.

You probably wanna use a junk email address to sign up for this one…but MIT Tech Review has a report out about workforce automation.

Americans are really bad at taking vacation. No, Chevy Chase is not involved.

Final Thoughts
So first– a retraction…last week I sent out a story about a 3D printer jam causing a fatal shooting–I didn’t make it up, but someone else did, apparently.

To all our US readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you. I hope your turkeys are moist, and your pies applecious!

Do you know your phone number’s reputation?

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Online reputation—for workers, sellers and buyers—is becoming increasingly important. But it’s hard to find all the places that reviews for different people and companies exist online. RepStamp wants to create an aggregated online reputation for sellers.

You know what else is getting a reputation? Your phone number. You’re gonna wanna read this one.

Corporate America may love robots in the workplace—but they don’t want to pay for advertising that is only consumed by bots. So they’re funding a startup to fight bots that consume ads. Maybe they should just starting paying all of us to watch them?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

IMG_6653

 

“We rescue people not banks”

Peers.org is setting up city networks to connect people who are interested in leading the sharing economy. Is your city on the list? Are you interested in helping people start food service businesses? One sharing economy way to do that is by forming a kitchen incubator.

Is the co-op movement a political movement? This essay argues that it should be.

These Canadians banded together cooperatively to buy and operate a mountain ski resort.

The Singularity Approaches

A 3D printer that uses fresh ingredients, instead of plastic filaments, and prints food? Hello, Star Trek TNG.

Watch this guy teach a robot how to manipulate a knife so it doesn’t scare nearby humans.\

From Partners

Students at UNLV are building an incubator to help build a worker-owned Las Vegas. They’re currently trying to raise $900 to travel to a conference that’s being held by the USW and Mondragon. Can you kick in a couple of bucks?

Rolling Jubilee recently announced that they’ve bought & forgiven $13.5 million in medical debt.

Geeking Out

A 3D printer in Austin shot and killed two workers who were trying to print a gun, and injured a third. No, I did not make that up.

I’m not always sure I understand what tech folks are talking about when they talk about “natural language search,” but here’s one experiment in figuring it out.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

I can’t wait until Larry McMurtry writes the seminal novel about robots herding cows in some steampunk-esque version of the Wild West…

Maybe there’s hope for higher ed after all…the father of MOOCs isn’t satisfied with his own product.

Maveric Media recently released a documentary about all the ways work is changing in the UK, particularly when it comes to technological unemployment. Here’s a segment of it that talks about how the retail sector, in particular, is changing. On a related note—Sears is turning some of its shuttered department stores into data centers.

Could Artificial Intelligence help generate leads for investigative journalists? Enquiring minds want to know…

Here’s a good first-person blog post, written by a musician, about the “tentacles” that the music industry has developed to find artists and give them exposure, but no money.

Final Thoughts

(In the future) “Refusing to make money off your own data might be as political an act as refusing to drive a car or eat meat.”

~Evgeny Morozov

“…our last resort is industrial action. And this we will continue.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“…our last resort is industrial action. And this we will continue.” Did you know that Amazon warehouse workers are conducting a series of rolling strikes with the support of their union, Verdi?

Does American society value work too much? This seems unlikely, to those of us who organize workers that are routinely disrespected & underpaid. But this writer makes the claim that “Having more of our human workers get replaced by machines is the best thing that could possibly happen to us.” And it’s hard to argue with, in context.

Read this amazing first-person narrative by an 40-year-old undocumented single mom farmworker in California. Have tissues nearby.

Jobs of the future may involve more quality assurance and usability testing. Because the robots can’t replace humans as testers of goods for humans…

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Thanksgiving is coming—do you have all the cooking equipment you need? If you search for a last-minute turkey baster on your smart phone and then you click an ad for Williams Sonoma, Google may be tracking your phone to see if you went to the store.

The Singularity Approaches

One of the (hopefully soon-to-be-realized) promises of Obamacare is that we’ll have better coordination between health care providers, through the use of electronic medical records. A new company is hoping to manage health IT for senior living centers in the US and abroad. “The competition is phones, faxes, paper, voicemails—that’s health care past and present.”

For every parent who’s ever wondered—how do I get my kids to reduce their screen time in favor of physical activity—here’s the solution! A desk you pedal to power your tech.

Before wearable computing can really take off, the question of how to give silent input without a keyboard must be solved. Here’s a quick look at what Google’s looking to patent, in the way of gesture tech.

Here are some easy questions to ask your self about any new technology:

tech questions

 

On the other hand, if you tend to be the kind of person who scares easy, don’t read this interview about our future after AI takes over the world.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…consumption isn’t the only thing that needs to be collaborative,” argues this new post from ImpactLab. “…freelancers—not companies, websites or apps—are responsible for the tremendous growth of the sharing economy…”

Sometimes, blogs give you a glimpse into a life you might’ve lived, had something been different. Sometimes, they let you see up close what it’s like to do something you’ve never done. Here’s an amazing look at one man’s decade-long efforts to report on the recycling industries in China that take your used soda bottles, Christmas tree lights, the change you never emptied out of your car, and well everything—and strip them down for reuse. He’s got a book coming out, too.

And while you’re wondering—what gets made out of my recycled soda bottles? This new foundation is working to make sure that the stuff of 3D printing—filaments that feed the printers—comes from recycled sources.

Students at Auburn University have been building one $20,000 house a year for low-income residents for the last 20 years. This year, they aim to build 8—but in order to meet their goal, they need to raise $160,000. Why don’t you go clean that change out of your car, and kick something in?

Here’s a follow-up to the worldwide sharing economy mapping project from a few issues ago…this one looks at how the mapping actually worked in different cities around the globe.

You’ve heard about the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, and have a sneaking suspicion it’s bad for workers, but are not sure why? Check out the executive summary of this new report by the Seattle to Brussels Network that shows how it takes bad US business practices and exports them to the EU.

From Partners

A new post by Economic Policy Institute’s Lawrence Mishel argues that we shouldn’t blame the robots for slow job growth in the last decade. I’m personally terrified whenever someone uses the phrase, “Let’s start from some basic macroeconomics mathematics”, but YMMV.

Organizing Theory

Who needs a supply chain (or a theory of supply chain disruption) if the majority of products are printed-to-order, in-store? Wal-Mart is experimenting with 3D printers in their stores.

If you’re not a lawyer, you may not be aware of this case that the Supreme Court is about to hear…but if you want to organize in the context of agreement elections—you need to learn about UNITE-HERE v. Mulhall.

Geeking Out

The heaviest metal there is? Or maybe the robot really does sing of love… Would you go to see a concert in which the only performers were robots?

This is old, but one of the best things I’ve ever seen–watch Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, one of the first computer programmers, explain what a nanosecond is, to Dave Letterman.

Final Thoughts

“Zombified industries have four telltale signals: a glacial pace of innovation and a lack of new ideas; apathetic customers; dwindling brand equity; and increased marketing investment.”

Umair Haque, The New Capitalist Manifesto

 

“Most of the workforce is already robots, just of the meaty variety.”

What would it really cost to cut poverty in the US in half? $3,000 per person, estimates Demos Institute’s Matt Bruenig. If you’re not thinking seriously about Universal Basic Income, you should. On a related note, this thread on Reddit discusses whether a Basic Income program in the US would cause more automation in the US workplace. Money quote? “Most of the workforce is already robots, just of the meaty variety.”

If you’re in New York, and you’re interested in single-subject news sites, check out this conference at Columbia next weekend. I may just pack the kids in the car and make them come with me, depending on the soccer schedule.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

How will we measure jobs, and economic impact, as the sharing economy grows? If it’s true that Airbnb hosts in NYC earned an average of $7,500 a year, does that count as a part-time job? Don’t think Airbnb is a real job? Here’s a first person account by a guy who bought an apartment in Vegas exclusively to rent it out on Airbnb.

These seven workers took the money they got for being laid off when their company closed, and used it to reopen their factory as a worker-owned co-op.

A great, long read about Amazon’s business model, where Jeff Bezos is described as an apex predator.

We’ve come a long when from the Agricultural Revolution—but farmers still have things to learn. This engineer just created a farm bot. It’s open source. Sort of like migrant farmer labor.

If you’re in a line of work where you talk to a lot of manufacturing employees and skilled machinists, you may want to read this article about why this company switched to using robots, instead of hiring more workers.

Are you trying to design an office that maximizes collaboration on creative tasks? The results of this survey may surprise you. Spoiler alert—millennials do not want more videoconferencing.

The Singularity Approaches

In all likelihood, you’ve never given one single thought to the security of your car’s computerized control system. Bad news–neither did the engineers who programmed it, so they’re pretty easily hackable. That can’t end well.

Not sure how you might use a 3D printer? Check out this helpful info graphic on the things that they can make, these days.

The-Possibilities-of-a-3D-Printer

 

From Partners

Privatizing job developers—yay or nay? Good Jobs First has a new report out, showing it’s a bad, bad plan. Unless what you’re trying to do is further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the unemployed…

Here’s a really good, interesting look at the failure of one part of Mondragon’s cooperative businesses, by Gar Alperovitz. As Alperovitz points out, it’s necessary to decide if co-op developers are trying to succeed inside the current economic system (as Mondragon largely has done), or to make an effort to fundamentally change the way businesses relate to the economy.

Great, in-depth article about the pressures that cause medical residents to want to unionize, by Sarah Jaffe.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Can I get an umlaut with that? IKEA recently started a platform for reselling your second hand, no-longer-wanted furniture. Not clear if it comes with used cursing for assembly, or if you have to add your own.

There’s been a lot on this blog about Greeks fighting austerity—here’s a group of Greeks who have banded together to support indy media, to make sure that news is getting out.

Last weekend, European activists held a conference to discuss debt, rights and democracy—check the website for video of their discussion.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

It’s possible that the Amazon review you’re reading was written by someone who didn’t pay anything for the product in question. Should we demand that reviewers disclose this kind of thing? Guess that apex predators don’t always feel the need to be transparent…

Geeking Out

Are you a creator or a curator? Or both? Check out this new Pew Study on the rise of both kinds of behavior by American adults.

You might not think that the way the internet is structured has much impact on our economy—I know I didn’t, until recently. But the way we share things online (hello creators & curators!) right now advantages the people who own the servers our data is stored on—so what happens if the data gets stored and shared differently? We might be able to make a new model of how to pay for content.

This vending machine bills itself as a 24-hour library. While I’m all for people getting books in malls, I’m reserving judgement till after I see it calm a roomful of unruly toddlers during storytime.

In the words of my 10-year-old: “That’s really crazy. And lazy.” Pizza delivery by robot. When will it need two-step authentication?

Final Thoughts

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, to our UK readers (follow #millionmaskmarch on Twitter today)…and for those of you on the other side of the pond, don’t forget to vote!