“A platform helping with self-employment shouldn’t be owned by the 1%.”

Original Content

If you enjoy the original content that Wyatt Closs, Douglas Williams, Julia Carrie Wong & Kenzo Shibata have created here—won’t you help support them?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“A platform helping with self-employment shouldn’t be owned by the 1 percent.” How some sharing economy start-ups are becoming co-ops, to ensure that they won’t lose their way.

You want a cartoon explaining problems with the sharing economy? Here you go.

“…unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself.” Translation? Even bankers are starting to worry about economic inequality. At least, British bankers are. Well, maybe only one British banker. Still, it’s something.

Jack Conte, 1/2 of YouTube sensation Pomplamousse, talks about sustainability as a music creator, and why that led him to create Patreon. Long video, but super-interesting.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

“These big collections of personal data are like radioactive waste. It’s easy to generate, easy to store in the short term, incredibly toxic, and almost impossible to dispose of.” I really wish I had been at this talk

Facial recognition will be good for your business. If what your business needs the most is to recognize people on various watch lists…

Geeking Out

These are the de rigeur yearly internet stats you didn’t know existed.

“…you get a lot more Neros than you get Claudiuses…” Jaron Lanier on how we really need to figure out how to grow the middle class.

Organizing Theory

Google Ventures has to make group decisions in a hurry—here’s the process they use.

Iceland has made great strides in reforming their democracy, in the wake of the worldwide recession. Notably, they jailed some bankers and resisted austerity. Read more about the tactics and techniques they used here.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

Last month, the International Trade Union Confederation released a report on the world’s worst countries for workers.  With salaries like these? The US has gotta be pretty high on that list. Walmart Moms are going on strike for a better way & better pay.

“When I take the kinds of technological progress that I’ve seen recently and take them forward for two-plus generations, it honestly feels to me like we’ll be in a science fiction economy at that point.” Robots are coming, folks. Really.

“What if the inventory could walk and talk?”

Original Content

Douglas Williams took a look at labor’s apps…or lack of them…in this new piece, “Organizing An App for That: Labor’s Absence From the App Store.”

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

“What if the inventory could walk and talk?” Amazon plans to have 10,000 robots helping pack shipments in their warehouses. By the end of this year.  

Uber drivers in Seattle are organizing with the Teamsters—not as a traditional union, but for mutual solidarity.

It’s not bad enough that corporations are considered people in the US—this Hong Kong company just appointed an AI to its board of directors. I guess it’s only a matter of time before political contributions from cyborgs become legal?

If we achieve more automation in manufacturing, what will that mean for developing countries’ ability to build wealth? (or should I say, for workers in developing countries? I would, but I don’t think they’re generally the ones building the wealth.)

Geeking Out

“We are able to turn the physical world into a virtual world.” How Google is ‘crawling’ the streets of Silicon Valley to build a program for self-driving cars.

Organizing Theory

Are you looking for a place to find academic research on social and activist movements? This one doesn’t quite get there for me, but it’s a good start.

From Partners

Friend’o’the’blog Jason Gooljar pointed out to me that SEIU sent out an email using the ‘tel’ html code last week. Wanna ask folks to make a phone call in your next email? Here’s how.

Australian union organizer Godfrey Moase wants to build a website to help people figure out if a general strike is feasible, in their region.

Are you a young worker in the US? Join the Young Worker Media Project’s tweet chat to talk about how work defines (or doesn’t define) young workers’ lives.  Wed., 4/28, starting at 8 pm eastern. Use the hashtag #risengrind, and follow @youngworkflo for more info.

Sharing,  Solidarity, & Sustainability 

“We need more cultural celebration of missionaries vs. mercenaries.” A provocative speech by Justin Rosenstein made TechCrunch ask “what can tech do better to help change the world?

Can we replace money through a Twitter hashtag? This guy gave it a shot, with #punkmoney.

As the world contains more and more people, we’ve got to get better at not wasting food. Here are some entrepreneurs, working to solve basic food-delivery logistics problems.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

“The power is where the data isn’t.” If our new world is all about data, can we use it to upend old power structures?

I will not like the Internet of Things, if it just turns out to be another way to bring advertising into my house.

The Russian underground isn’t just a place to buy and sell personal data…it’s also a place to buy software that allows you to steal data.

And while we’re on the topic of data (ok, I’m always on that topic)—is education technology data-mining your kids?

“…there’s more of a connection between black cooperatives and civil rights than there is between black cooperatives and capitalism.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…there’s more of a connection between black cooperatives and civil rights than there is between black cooperatives and capitalism.” Professor Jessica Gordon Nembhard talks about her new book, Collective Courage: A History of African-American Cooperative Economic Thought and Pratice to Colorlines magazine.

“Food sharing is still on the edges of mainstream.” But will sharing your leftovers with strangers become a thing? I’d personally like to stop throwing out fruit that my kids won’t eat…

This video chat lets teens abroad who want to practice their English connect with elderly folks who want to help teach them—or just want someone to talk to during the day.

Twenty years ago, Zapatistas in Chiapas declared war on the Mexican government for signing NAFTA. Since then, they’ve rebuilt their local economy to focus on solidarity, and to prioritize self-sustenance.

Geeking Out

MIT’s Center for Civic Media wants to make access to telepresence bots available to anyone, not just the rich. So they created the People’s Bot.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

The “army of the self-employed” in Britain are wondering—will legislation ever catch up with the way we work now?

“Nobody ever asks a cyborg to lean in.” Haley Mlotek has some interesting thoughts about how robots and mechanization means we’re all becoming feminized at work—and how that might help us overcome oppression.

If you’re building a business that isn’t, strictly speaking, legal, attracting top talent to work for you can be tough.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez wants construction workers to Stand Down for Safety in the first week of June—to make sure employers are doing everything they can to ensure safety from falls on the job.

Do you make some or all of your income from freelance writing? If so, these folks would like to hear from you.

Organizing Theory

Fighting street harassment or sexual assault on campus? There’s an app for that.

I know, you hear the words “Pirate Party” and think of groups of people wearing an eyepatch while drinking rum and singing sea shanties. But the emergence of a continental political party that’s been largely organized online—and around digital issues—is not to be underestimated.

If you’ve got an email list with lots of inactives, you might want to try separating them out and running some tests…

From Partners

“If geeks are anything they’re problem solvers. If you give them a hard problem they get really excited about solving it. The problem is, many of them don’t have personal experience with hard problems. So the trick is to be very intentional about exposing them to the problems and then asking them to participate.

Things that don’t work are shaming, guilting, accusing. This whole attitude now that “techies don’t care” really bothers me. It’s not productive. “ This Reddit AMA by Catherine Bracy from Code for America might be my favorite thing ever.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

If we’ve come to Andy Warhol’s future, where everyone gets their 15 minutes to be famous (even if it’s just online)—will we next be searching to be forgotten in 15 minutes?

If you can’t opt out of a facial recognition world—can avoid it, by wearing someone else’s face?

“It costs more to have an Internet connection in your house per month than the casual worker on MTurk can make in 30 days.”

Original Content

Did your lawn get mowed this weekend, by you or someone else? Check out Wyatt Closs’s new piece “A Cut Above: The Workonomics of Grass.”

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

“It costs more to have an Internet connection in your house per month than the casual worker on MTurk can make in 30 days.” In 2009, Jason Huff launched an artistic project to get Mechanical Turk workers to tell their stories. Five years later, he went back to that well to see if and how things had changed.

Veteran journalist Karl Hodge takes a look at life from the perspective of a freelancer, in the age of Oodesk, Elance, and other apps.  And Stas Zoblinski talks about why we should all take a chance on building our own businesses, because “Corporations Will Eat You for Breakfast.”

Sometimes, even when your app makes money, you still have to lay off all your staff.

Watch NYU B-School professor Scott Galloway shred this robotics industry executive on the question of whether people’s jobs are being replaced by robots.

Geeking Out

You may have already figured out who gets your stuff, after you’re not here anymore. But do you know who might inherit your email? A new set of state laws may make this clearer. (As for me—hey, my kids don’t read their own email—what are they going to do with mine?)

As someone who has personally used both exercise and calorie tracking apps, I was disconcerted to see this new report from the FTC about how those apps might be selling very personal data about you to ad companies.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Civic crowd funding has become a larger & larger trend. This MIT student has been looking at the success rate & average size of proposals in this sector, for the past two years. Here are the results of his research.

These Greek factory workers took over their factory after it had been abandoned by the boss, and started a worker-coop that makes environmentally-friendlier products than what they made before the crash.

Wouldn’t it be cool if every road in the US was paved with solar panels? These folks are crowd-funding to perfect that tech.

Can co-ops become the dominant form of enterprise in the sharing economy?

Organizing Theory

Industry-leading email newsletter provider (and the host for this fine list) MailChimp has a great internal website to let their staff know what kind of tone to use in writing for every possible circumstance. Does your organization help staff figure out how to write for different parts of the web?

And speaking of email—are you looking for good examples of, say, an announcement email? Check out Really Good Emails.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Is it too late to opt out of world-wide facial recognition?

Apple, I love you. Mostly. But you’re starting to seriously creep me out.

“Devices which are networked or controlled by a corporation therefore cannot form part of an individual’s extended body.” Interesting polemic on the consequences of wearable tech, from the folks at Stop the Cyborgs.

From Partners

Need to do a video conference with a group that includes English and Spanish speakers? USiLive’s got your hookup for video conference meetings that involve interpreters.

“We (drivers) have become the functional end of the app.”

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

“We have become the functional end of the app.” A price war between Lyft & Uber means real problems for the drivers from both services.

For May Day, Paul Hiebert looked at the difference between the US and the rest of the world, when it comes to work-play balance.

From Partners

“Civic tech doesn’t work unless it works for everyone.” Great blog post from Catherine Bracy about what Code for America’s doing next.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Check out this website, which is pointing out to insurance companies the license plates of cars being used by Uber and Lyft drivers. I guess some people really don’t like to share…

“Businesses need to be about two things—staff and customers.” So pay a living wage, folks, if you wanna be considered a socially-conscious business.

24% of the US’s largest companies have their CEO pay tied to some kind of sustainability metrics.

Organizing Theory

Here’s a novel plan from folks in California—let’s give corporations a tax incentive to promote more equity between CEOs and workers.

This is a really good wiki of how/why to create a protest or rally, done by people who want to draw the world’s attention to the plight of 234 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from school & trafficked.

Thinking about using mobile technology to motivate voters in this mid-year electing? A new poll from Gallup shows there’s plenty of room, in that organizing space.

If it feels like your organization’s Facebook reach has gotten reduced, you might be right. Here’s why.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

“Whether it is possible to attribute real change to the use of satire, or whether it just makes those who tell the jokes feel better, can’t be empirically proven.” Yes. And yet, the reaction to online satire seems to lend itself to an interpretation that it is effective.

Geeking Out

The next time you think you see a bug crawling across your floor, check again. It may be a nanobot. That is, if you’re hosting some kind of manufacturing process.

This engineer hacked a guy’s brain. No, really.

“The relentless pursuit of efficiency is what capitalism does best…”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“The relentless pursuit of efficiency is what capitalism does best…” So how about just calling the sharing economy “the economy?” Thanks, Noah Ready-Campbell.

Set up a tech worker cooperative? Here’s a pretty incredible thread of folks talking about that idea.

I’ve been wondering about the impact of worker-owned co-ops on racial inequality on the job—so was very excited to see this interview, on Shareable.

Geeking Out

There’s been a lot written about the perils of new FCC rules that may undermine net neutrality. For anyone who works with online technology—whether you’re an organizer or a worker who relies on tech to do some crucial part of your job—it’s an important issue. Not sure why? Read these things.

Organizing Theory

Is your organization’s website optimized for mobile? Do you have an app for that? Eric Lee from Labour Start explains why you really want to focus on this.

The New York Rescue Mission got help from a professional ad agency to create a campaign called Make them Visible that asks the question: “if you walked by a member of your family on the street, dressed as a homeless person, would you notice them?” Powerful stuff.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

What’s going on in the workforce? Increasingly, in the US, income inequality. I’m sure you’ve seen this epic report from Demos, documenting how the fastest-growing sectors in our economy are also the ones with greatest inequality. Want fries with that?

Really, an article about cows that milk themselves, robotically, has got to be great. But then it included this line: “”‘Most milking parlors, you see, you really only see the back end of the cow,’ Mr. Borden’s father, Tom, said. ‘I don’t see that as building up much of a relationship.’”

For all the conversation about NCAA athletes unionizing, I haven’t heard a ton about recently-activist cheerleaders. And yet, with reasons like these, you can see why they might.

It’s clear (at least to me) that one of the fastest-growing industries looking for help from robots is food service…$1.60/day to run a robot chef in China?

Amazon may be setting up their own delivery service, to compete with UPS and FedEx.

What’s Behind that Google Glass?


Geeking Out

I can’t wait until nextgen Google Glass (or a competitor) lets me sleep through every meeting. Or make funny faces, during video calls, that no one else can see.

As more and more of us use our phones to organized direct actions, we become vulnerable to authorities’ control of the cell signal. These folks are figuring out work-arounds for protest movements.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Do you organize people in jobs that require criminal background checks? A new program the FBI is rolling out may incorporate photos from those programs into facial recognition searches for actual criminals.

Facebook wants to help you find your friends—where they are hanging out in real time. And they say they won’t use that data to target ads. At least, not until their next privacy rejiggering.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The Swiss continue to move in the direction of being the first country to provide a guaranteed basic income to every citizen.  Meanwhile, organizers of this subreddit are planning a MayDay Thunderclap supporting basic income.

New York City is not just promoting worker-owned co-ops—they’re partnering with them to fulfill government contracts.

Car-sharing with apps is great—if you happen to live in a big city, with lots of users, that is. But what if we could use the principles of customer/driver verification for hitch-hiking, a much more likely method of ridesharing in rural communities?

Organizing Theory

Can a crowd-funding approach to fundraising also lead to more activist donors?  And while we’re on the topic of crowd funding—IndieGogo put out a great video series about how to make your project a success—here’s the first one.

Greenpeace figured out how to make an MMORPG out of deforestation spotting, to engage thousands of online activists in reporting illegal logging.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

Imagine that every US company with more than 35 employees had to make seats on the board for employee representatives. That’s how the Danes do it.

Some of us in the US may have a hard time thinking of Chinese trade unionists as major allies in the fight against Walmartization. But these Chinese trade unionists took on Wal-Mart head on.

American Greetings company came up with a novel way of pointing out the millions of hours of unpaid labor that some of us do every day.

Is technological change responsible for the inequality that exists in the United States? This history professor says no, it’s really our public policy and a lack of union density that creates our unfair society.

“He fights to be seen as a human being, because maybe then he will be paid like one and treated like one.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“He fights to be seen as a human being, because maybe then he will be paid like one and treated like one.” An incredible look at St. Louis fast food workers’ organizing by Sarah Kenzidor.

Would a basic income plus technological unemployment force a restructuring of production?

“What can we do to bring home jobs using robotics technology?” Seems counter-intuitive, no? Georgia Institute of Technology thinks robots will deliver more jobs than they kill. PS—the self-driving car? It’s closer than you think.

One town in Sweden is experimenting with a new schedule for their employees—setting up a six-hour workday, but maintaining full-time pay—to see if it will improve productivity & reduce employee stress.

Sometimes, it’s hard to put your finger on what it is that can be so upsetting about the profit-based parts of the  sharing economy. And then there’s this.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

The next time you’re at a mass demonstration, you might want to bring your tinfoil hat.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

If you’ve wondered how trade unions and worker-owned coops are collaborating around the world, wonder no more. This excellent paper will give you new insight.

“…the rational reaction to living with social stratification is to compete for all you can get, as you’re not guaranteed a fair share.” Why inequality is bad, from an evolutionary point of view.

What would make the owners of a clothing retail website take out an ad in the Wall Street Journal decrying fast fashion? It’s bad for workers, bad for the environment, and overall, just bad.

When self-driving cars mean we don’t need big parking structures in center cities, maybe we’ll all live in apartments the size of parking spaces.

Organizing Theory

From an organizational perspective, a daily email seems like it will run the risk of alienating supporters. Greenpeace’s mobilization team took a risk, when they wanted to update their list about the Arctic 30.

Are you building a team to do online engagement? Here are some of online organizing firm Echo Ditto’s best practices.

The major social network driving voter contact in India’s election? What’s App.

Geeking Out

You’ve kinda gotta admire a guy who took out €.5M in bank loans and used it to fund anti-capitalist organizing. I bet his FICO score is ruined, though.

Drones that recharge themselves by landing on power lines? I think I saw that in a Transformers movie…


“We are a culture that buys a lot of junk.”

Original Content

Julia Carrie Wong explored the intersection of apps that hire domestic workers, and domestic workers who are self-organizing into co-ops and other kinds of employee-empowering structures in this new post.

Kenzo Shibata wrote about the need to take seriously the labor of digital organizing here.  Well, that is, if you want to win…

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“We are a culture that buys a lot of junk.” In this case, fast fashion—but it’s about to get more expensive. Thank an organizer in Bangladesh or China! No, really, thank them—I’m not being sarcastic.

The world’s about to get its first 3-D printed house. The construction industry—and the waste it generates—may never be the same. In the US, Reaction Housing is planning to build a shelter system that’s light enough to be moved by hand—but can stop a bullet. There’s nothing on their website to explain why someone might be shooting at you.

Should the super-rich all quit their jobs, so someone else can have them?

Can unions and other workplace-oriented groups help their members save money on their energy bills? These UK groups think so.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Are you ready for a social network that’s made up only of people who live in your neighborhood? I’m not sure I want a round-up of bikes stolen & who needs to cut their lawn…but this does seem to have more uses.

Google Glass, or similar technology, seems to have a lot of upside when you think about it in the context of a hospital—instant access to medical records; the health care provider looking at the patient, instead of down at a screen; the ability to hold a consult with someone in a different place. But hospitals are wrestling with some serious concerns about uploading so much personal information to the cloud.

Do you ever get annoyed when people you don’t know well reference something you’ve shared on Facebook? This game will teach you about what level your privacy settings really are .

Mega-corporations are spending mega-money to monitor their presence online. Here’s a story about Wells Fargo’s social media command center. Wonder what hashtags they’re tracking…

Organizing Theory

Why do people engage in protest or direct action? If you’re designing a campaign that requires mass mobilization, read this.

Curious about how to use open data to organize? TechPresident has a good primer, with lots of examples of how to engage communities. And while we’re on the topic of data — here’s how some organizers have been thinking about using data to promote resilience in fragile communities.

In the for-profit sector, the best-performing companies turn over their entire board once every nine or ten years. I’m wondering if anyone has done a similar study on non-profit boards?

Geeking Out

Can tech-infused sponges make surgery safer for patients? This company is betting on it.

Google Glass has some cool factor…but Orcam? Will change the life of a visually impaired person.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Contributoria continues to be the most interesting experiment in funding journalism, at least to my mind. Here’s Brett Scott, writing about the ways that funding investigative journalism continues to evolve.

Is there a case to be made that part of what’s driving unemployment in Italy is automation of jobs? This professor thinks there is.

Here’s a pretty incredible, data-driven effort to figure out how musicians’ ability to make money has changed in the light of digital tech—and where the future of musical revenue streams will come from.

Toyota was one of the pioneers of having robots and humans work together on the line. Now, they’re thinking about adding back jobs for humans. Turns out, you can’t become a master car maker without first being an apprentice.

“I’m hard pressed to make a case for my edge over a robot…” Says a doctor.

Win Campaigns by Respecting Digital Labor

Guest Post by Kenzo Shibata

It’s a challenge to make the case that digital organizing is a skill that most people simply do not have.

Think of it this way. How often do you see a show with a cult following get canceled by the network and aggrieved fans feverishly write letters extolling the popularity of the show? Regardless of Nielsen ratings or lack of interest from advertisers, “If only the network execs knew how much this show means to me and my friends, they would keep it on the air for a million years.”

Everyone with a TV thinks they know better than a network executive. Everyone with an iPod thinks they know better than the record companies. Everyone who watches movies thinks they know better than film producers.

Naturally, everyone with a Twitter account or a Facebook profile thinks that if given the opportunity, they could write engaging content that would get more shares and retweets than anything someone paid to do the work can get.

This is simply not true.

In the universe of media, digital media is still brand new. The practices change as fast as the platforms do. New strategies are hashed out, tested, and either launched or abandoned every day. Digital organizers have to either adapt or watch their campaigns fall flat.

I was recently asked to write a case study on a digital campaign I coordinated five years ago and I turned in a chapter on the theory behind the digital strategy. My editor was expecting me to give a nuts-and-bolts account of what I did so that others can emulate me. Had I written what my editor asked, no one could have emulated me because none of the platforms work the same way they did five years ago. It would have been like giving instructions on how to fix an eight-track cassette player because you want to hear the latest Skrillex album.

Over those five years, I’ve read countless blogs, attended conferences, asked questions, and tried tactics that worked and others that failed. I’ve taken courses. I’ve taught courses. I’ve kept up with the changes and trends in the various platforms I’ve used.

None of these are things that the average person with a Twitter account has the time or interest in doing. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with those people, it’s just that they do not have experience or training to coordinate a digital campaign.

Digital campaigns are just that — campaigns. They aren’t a few tweets thrown at the end of an effort to boost the message. They take time and planning. The digital component of a campaign are tactics that should flow seamlessly through the traditional methods employed.

I often hear the complaint from traditional organizers that digital will never replace door knocking, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings so we shouldn’t devote much time to do.

I agree that digital will never replace traditional methods, but it is another tool in the toolset. If we as progressive campaigners ignore those tools, we give the other side a competitive advantage.

There had to be organizers early in the twentieth century who said that phone calls will never replace door knocking. And they were right.

Digital tools are not mutually exclusive from traditional methods.

Just like traditional organizing methods, digital organizing is labor. The folks who do the work may love doing it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t time-consuming and taxing. Although the work looks easy since it’s mainly clicking mice and tapping on phones, when organizers are doing this work, they aren’t spending time with family, enriching themselves in other areas, or practicing self-care.

In addition, the work you don’t see — calling and visiting activists, attending meetings, testing new methods — takes up as much if not more time than actually producing the social media content.

That’s right — social media work is work that must be respected and compensated.

Jennifer Pan explains in Jacobin Magazine “The invisibility of the labor of social media has adversely affected even those who are paid to tweet.” Pan is describing the emotional labor that is extracted from digital organizers. Her analysis extends to people working in digital marketing and news media.

“Despite their lack of editorial influence, these social media workers must perform the emotional labor of fielding any fallout that results from the publication of controversial articles, often … contending with thousands of angry messages over the course of a few hours. “

So whether you work for a labor union, a pizza chain, or a national news outlet; this labor can wear down the person behind the screen. I know from personal experience, coordinating social media around a labor strike sometimes means answering the phone at midnight to talk to a nervous activist who thinks he may not have the ability to feed his family if the strike is prolonged.

Just like organizers who knock on doors and make calls, we digital organizers work with real people with real concerns and our ability to do so determines our effectiveness. Digital organizing may require a knowledge of technology, but technology alone does not fuel campaigns; people do.

Political and cultural critics who offer their ideas for free over social media as a means to be heard are arguably the most exploited for their labor. These critics spend years building followings through organizing and by honing their craft that requires their being both pithy and concise. Their ideas are often attacked by people whose mainstream platforms are threatened by this work, or even worse, stolen entirely with minimal if any credit given at all.

Julia Carrie Wong, writing for The Nation wrote about how some feminists of color have proposed locking their Twitter accounts from journalists and others who use their ideas to fuel their own. Wong, who has worked as a union organizer,  believes that locking out people who fish for ideas is much like traditional labor actions against wage theft.

A Twitter blackout could be viewed as a form of labor action, with tweeting cast as a form of work. That work is obviously unwaged. Are some Twitter users becoming an unpaid workforce exploited for their intellectual and emotional labor?

Maybe it would take a day without digital organizing for people to see how much labor intensive the work is. Imagine if your Congressman, or if the CEO if Taco Bell had to curate their own feeds.

Another way digital labor is dismissed and exploited are through lines like, “But you love doing this, I see you on your Facebook all day.”

Here’s a little secret. You know how digital organizers seem to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all day? It’s not just that we love doing it. We’re organizing you. We curate our own feeds to lead by example, to make personal connections with people we’re  organizing, to test out new methods, and to boost the message of the organizations and campaigns we work for.

Sure, I do love the medium and that’s why I chose this kind of work, but I also love my family. I love my friends. I love my hobbies. I cannot be fully engaged in any of these things when I’m coordinating a campaign.

Miya Tokumitsu calls this “but you love it” argument the “Do what you love” mantra and she warns,

Before succumbing to the intoxicating warmth of that promise, it’s critical to ask, “Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like non-work?” “Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?” Historian Mario Liverani reminds us that “ideology has the function of presenting exploitation in a favorable light to the exploited, as advantageous to the disadvantaged.”

When some asks an organizer to “just tweet between housecalls” or post content to Facebook between meetings, they are exploiting their labor. When a boss extracts additional labor from a worker without additional compensation, they are taking work away from someone else while wearing down their current employee. We as organizers, digital and traditional, need to push back on this.

Digital organizers have a skill and to be effective, that skill must be respected. Respect means devotion of resources. Respect means treating that labor like any other labor. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones because I get to do this work for a cause I believe in and I am compensated for my work.

I said this before, but it certainly bears repeating.

If we progressives aren’t on top of digital strategy, we’re ceding major ground to the people who are trying to crush us. If we treat digital organizing as an afterthought — that means treating the digital labor as free labor — we will lose.