“…we should be working to ensure that a future without jobs is a future where we all get to enjoy the benefits of free time.”

If you’re a weekend Twitter user, you may already know about #Saturdayschool. Douglas Williams wrote a great piece profiling Professor Rhonda Ragsdale, and how she’s created a new kind of digital teach-in.

What’s Going On in the Workforce

“…we should be working to ensure that a future without jobs is a future where we all get to enjoy the benefits of free time.” Amen, Sarah.

And what better way to enjoy our free time than with sex robots? Which might also lead to technological unemployment for sex workers.

You may have seen that the NY Times Magazine wrote about the inequality-erasing benefits of worker-owned co-ops last Sunday…but did you also know that they can increase their workers’ life expectancy?

Are happier workers more productive? This study, by economists in the UK, says yes. If anyone wants to drop off some chocolate to me at work, I promise to be more productive.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Most car insurance companies already give a “good driver” bonus. Will we change the way we feel about that, when they’re getting real time data on our driving habits from our cars?

Microsoft has announced that they are adding player reputation to each user’s Gamercard—and the reputation score is being crowdsourced from other players. If you want a pretty good explanation of the perils and potential improvements that come from such a system, check the comments to this post.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Are you interested in the sharing economy, but not quite sure how to start? Why not participate in Global Sharing Day on June 1st?

What if you could turn trash into electricity?

Smart cities work more efficiently, saving money & other resources. Here’s how Boston has been working to use the GPS tech that exists in many cars, to map road hazards.

From Partners

Want 8 simple (ok, not really) ideas about how to increase income equality? Check out this long read by Harold Meyerson.

Organizing Theory

Do you want a better way of crowd-sourcing decisions by your volunteers or spread-out staff? Loomio is a new, open-source decision making tool inspired by Occupy—and it’s free.

No one can guarantee that they can make content viral—but here’s a good slideshow of Greenpeace’s best practices for making it more likely, when you’re doing non-violent direct actions.

Got an idea about how to use social media for engagement of people in under-represented communities? Check out this competition that’s making micro-grants for just that purpose.

Are you hacking your way to a better world, or just complaining about the one we’ve got?

Geeking Out

Want to read some crazy predictions about what the short-term (30 years off) future might hold for humanity? Here you go. My personal favorite is from Karen Wickre, editorial director of Twitter (wait, that’s a job?).  “I love what access to technology can do—I just want it to be evenly distributed. That would blow my mind, and I bet I’m not alone.”

And while we’re on the crazy prediction train—do I get to look like Molly Millions, now that Facebook has bought Oculus Rift?

Final Thoughts

“Economically there was no reason why a laborer named, say, Mickey, should dislike a laborer named, say, Mihal; the Mihals did not lower the wage rates of the only kind of jobs they were able to get. Nor did they take others’ jobs away from them; the steel industry was in its period of greatest expansion, building new mills & furnaces & hiring new men by the hundred. That the company openly preferred foreigners as laborers that immigration from wester Europe had fallen off, that the hours were long, the work hard and the opportunities for advancement rare, helped explain why the unskilled labor force was predominantly foreign by the beginning of the new century. For the English-speaking peoples’ unconcealed racial prejudice, their attitude that it was a disgrace to work on a level with Hunkies, there was no rational excuse. But it was a fact, a large & not pretty fact which marked, stunted & embittered whole generations.”

Thomas Bell, Out of This Furnace

“Do you feel that work and play should not be mutually exclusive?”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“Do you feel that work and play should not be mutually exclusive?” I’m not gonna lie—this is long. But if you want a real insight into the perils of working as a freelancer in the app economy, it’s worth it.

In SF and have an idea about how to solve the city’s homeless problem? Check out this Hacktivation, scheduled for the last weekend in March. (Protip—equipping the homeless as wifi hotspots is a non-starter.)

This borrowing shop exemplifies what’s best about the sharing economy, IMO.

How is our use of apps and shared vehicles to get around going to change the way that cities plan? Here’s one theory.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Can micro finance help Americans who lack credit get access to capital?

I’ve been wondering how long it would take for someone to come up with the idea of aggregating all your online ratings on various marketplaces into one score. erated claims to have done it.

From Partners

Here’s a call for papers/proposals for what sounds like a really interesting conference that the New School is hosting in November 2014. “Digital Labor, Sweatshops, Picket Lines & Barricades.”

Last week, I went to a very interesting meeting about the future of work (as did many of you!). One of the things that struck me about it was how many people mentioned a universal basic income as a possible solution to income inequality in the future. If you’re interested in finding out more about that, you might want to check out this conference in Montreal, this summer.

One thing that meeting made me wonder about was whether anyone has studied what the rate of pay inequity is, in worker-owned co-ops, seen through the lens of gender and race. So far, just one study has cropped up—which only deals with gender. Anyone who’s got more academic research on this topic—please send it along!

Organizing Theory

If your state legislature let you edit proposed laws via wiki, would it spur citizen engagement? This California Assemblyman is experimenting with just such a plan. On a related note, this NJ congressional candidate is crowd-sourcing his campaign platform on GitHub.

You want to change the world by telling stories? Medium wants to help. They’re looking for 10 do-gooders (c3 status not required) to help out with professional told & photographed stories.

Geeking Out

I’ve finally found my people…hello, technoprogressives!

NASA study of income inequality says that math leads them to only two outcomes: socialism, or societal collapse. But don’t worry, either way, you likely won’t live to see it.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

Interested in how to succeed as a Mechanical Turk? Peep this thread on Reddit, which is full of helpful tips.

Caregivers beware—while some scientists think it’ll be a long while before we’re able to program social intelligence into robots, others are planning to have robot housemaids for the elderly soon.

Are you trying to make product decisions with a distributed workforce? Or just want to increase worker input on organizational decisions? Try using this new service, Agora, that gives more options to the crowd.

Check out this new documentary about the working conditions of adjunct faculty and precariously-perched academics.

Would you let your employer monitor your sleep, if it was under the guise of making you a better employee?

Incredible look at how the South Korean diaspora fueled the volatile “fast fashion” industry in the Americas, through first- and second-generation immigrants.

Final Thoughts

“No social movement, no matter how liberating, can bring permanent happiness to the people it touches. We grow old; we lose loved ones. We fall short of our greatest goals and fail to live up to our most optimistic visions of our own character. When history opened up to American women in the late twentieth century, it did not offer them permanent bliss. It gave them an opportunity to face the dark moments on their own terms and to exalt in the spaces between.”

Gail Collins, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

“When one fishes, there’s an art to landing the fish…”

Did you read Wyatt Closs’s “How Workers Could Get Hijacked on the Digital Highway” yet? You really ought to do that…

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“When one fishes, there’s an art to landing the fish…” This might be the best thing I’ve ever read about teaching, wrapped up in a post about how to engage students, through social media and in-person.

“For all of North Brooklyn’s book groups and websites and meet-ups dedicated to alternative monetary systems, the solidarity economy is, for the time being, at its best in the service sector.” Tip your barista, people.

“What if a company maximized jobs over profits?” Interesting question for  the Harvard Business Review to be asking

Running a unionized worker-owned co-op? Join 1 worker, 1 vote.

Uber has apparently bent to the popular sentiment that, if you are helping people hail & pay for car rides, you might actually have some responsibility if something bad happens—even if you aren’t employing the drivers. So they got insurance.

Organizing Theory

Serious trigger warning on this one—but kudos to this ad company, for figuring out how to incorporate google glass into this PSA.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Peers & the Freelancers’ Union are teaming up to host a Q & A on tax prep for folks who work in the sharing economy—Wed. March 19th at 3 pm Eastern/12 Pacific.

“(non-profit) professionals are taught to say, “how can I help you with the skills and the expertise that I have?” None of us are taught to say, “I need your help too.” Some interesting thinking about how time-banking works—and how it could work differently, if more of us did it.

“It’s tricky for us to focus on property tax in a vacuum. You almost have to look at the entire picture of what the contribution is from the business community—from the philanthropic standpoint as well as the tax base.” Um. Yeah. Right. Guess no one should be too surprised that Silicon Valley companies are just like old school corporations, when it comes to continuing policies that create inequality.

The YMCA in London is working on the problem of access to affordable housing, in that very expensive city, by building pre-fab one-bedroom apartments that can be moved by crane.

If the car is a symbol of individualism—is car-sharing a symbol of collective action? So argues this blog post by French/Belgian car-sharing service, Djump. Kudos to them for wanting to spark a dialogue about reforming (not rejecting) regulation.

Are you thinking about building a makerspace? Here are some tips on how to build community around hardware-sharing.

Geeking Out

Mmmm….robot-made Oreos

Final Thoughts

“Life is going to be complicated no matter what, so you might as well open the door and invite it into your house, or your pickup, as the case may be. Besides, someday, when you have to carry your double bed on your back, someone you once helped might give you a lift. It’s the basic investment plan of the poor: save what you have by sharing it.”

Julia Alvarez, A Wedding in Haiti

How Workers Could Get Hijacked On the Digital Highway

by Wyatt Closs

We all know how intertwined the internet is in our lives. And while we surf along merrily until our hearts are content and eyes glaze over, what we may not realize is how easily access for the average working person could get hijacked.  And why the Beastie Boys are taking on AT&T in shareholder meeting rooms. More on that in a second.

“Internet hijacked? No way,” you say? Way. It all has to do with this notion of having ‘net neutrality’ which you may have heard of but like me, didn’t dig that deep into it.

It’s broken down in this video featuring socially responsible investment adviser Farnum Brown.  This man manages millions of dollars for individual investors who want to earn a return with more than just a bottom line but instead with some meaning – people like the Beasties.

What the Beastie Boys Want from AT & T

In a follow-up interview after the video was done, I also liked this explanation he gave: 

“What you’ve had so far is relatively good pricing of the Internet so far by most consumer standards, but what we could be headed towards is something like Cable TV with tiers and gateways and premiums for different levels of services unless the possibilities within the current system are checked.”

Uh-oh. That wouldn’t be good. These days, it’s almost a given that the internet, which was generated by government resources, is like a utility, a vital part of daily life (YouTube cat video watching aside perhaps).

Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and author of a book with the almost-too-long-for-Twitter title “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age,” concurred, writing in a NY Times op-ed

“High-speed Internet access isn’t a luxury; it is basic infrastructure, like electricity, clean water and a functioning street grid, that is essential for the free market to function.”

Our private consumptions aside, as the very definition of work place increasingly shifts, be it for telecommuting, working in a virtually-managed company or doing freelance or contract work from home, workers in this digital economy depend on a fully-functioning, high-quality, top-speed internet. A lack of neutrality is like someone having the capacity to dramatically change the fees a taxi driver has to pay to rent their medallion &  vehicle at any moment.

And this kind of work is only continuing to grow as the economy gets reshaped, and moves from the old, traditional, centralized workplace or office.

  • People on average spend 1 day a week telecommuting.
  • The online work platform, Elance, reports hirings have increased 51%
  • England’s trade union federation, the TUC, reports one in five workers aged over 55 are regularly working from home
  • A Brandman University – Forrester Research survey of Fortune 500 hiring managers showed 56% of hiring managers expect that the practice of virtual teaming will steadily or greatly increase in their company

It’s not just digitally-oriented jobs like writers, designers or information technology jobs that a ‘toll booth’ to the internet would impact. Imagine if a home care worker who relies on the internet for medical information or keeping in contact with someone’s doctor, nurse, or pharmacy, sees a sudden spike in their cost to access those functions?

So, what are working families and workers in the digital economy to do? Well, it’s a little complicated, much of it hemmed up by the actions of FCC Chairman Michael Powell in 2002. His ruling led to creating a painted corner for the FCC legally that has made attempts to change a definition of what’s called “common carriage” in the telecoms game, a completely jingle-jangled mess. Through a series of rulings and lawsuits the FCC’s principles currently look like the way those curly telephone cords would get all twisted.  The Crawford NY Times op-ed lays this out further.

“The most elegant resolution would be for the FCC to reverse the decision of Michael Powell, who now heads the Cable TV trade association by the way” says Brown. Cha-ching! Why that hasn’t happened yet in six years of the Obama administration is perhaps the subject of another blog.

The other solution, in the mean time, is going straight to the companies and getting them to change their ways and policies and see the greater good in net neutrality for the long-term.

And that brings us back to the Beastie Boys. Who, as the video explains, have taken up a campaign against AT&T, Verizon and others, using their stature as shareholders to get  net neutrality from inside.  They’ve had two votes now, the latest getting 24% of shareholders support or $36 Billion dollars worth of Verizon stock. Not bad.  But not quite enough to drop the mic just yet.

The reality is that the only industry that benefits from not having net neutrality is this handful of companies that dominate your ability to get on the internet.  All other businesses are subjected to the hijacking to give you, say, critical information and content at a fast high-quality speed.  Google, Facebook, Hulu, Netflix, everybody. See how Netflix started duking it out with Comcast not too long ago over these matters.

Oh, and that whole Comcast – Time Warner merger thing isn’t like to reduce this risk, by the way.

Brown observes “We have this era of “Regulatory Capture”, where the entities that are to do the regulating are dominated by people who are part of that industry’s money-making.” He added later  “But as an investor, by and large, you’re investing across universal means, even if its an individual stock.” And so, not having net neutrality is bad for businesses across the entire economy because its anti-competitive and inhibits innovation. “

Yeah, and what he said. And, well, its just not cool.

 

Dig Deeper at:

“Suppose we found that the only way to guarantee full employment is to institute a 10 hour work week?”

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

“Suppose we found that the only way to guarantee full employment is to institute a 10 hour work week.” Robots are coming, people.  It’s just a question of when…and how we decide to react. They say that the best jobs of the future will be those that combine machine creativity with human ingenuity. IBM’s super computer, Watson, is going to be a key player. Even if you’re a chef. Would a universal basic income create freedom from jobs? And why do people think that’s a bad thing?

Ever wonder how worker-owned coops decide what to pay their CEOs? Here’s a good analysis on that topic by Ed Mayo.

An excellent post from Fast Company about efforts by musicians to remind producers that synthesizers are not the same as people playing real instruments.

Fascinating look at the business of being a cartoonist in this post by Grigory Kogan about how he’s building a tool for cartoonists to use, in order to maximize their cartoons’ earning potential. Relatedly, how do you prevent piracy on the internet, if you run one of the world’s largest sources for digital photos? Maybe you just don’t. Getty’s decision to give away 35 million photos in exchange for link backs is good news for the rest of us, maybe not so good for the photographers who created the work.

Amazing reporting by Vice & ProPublica about temp work in the US—here’s part 1 (of 5)

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

New companies have been launched to help AirBnb hosts manage their properties. I’ve gotta say, there’s a pretty long tradition of this kind of thing at the Jersey Shore—are we counting beach houses as part of the sharing economy?

Some interesting points in this post by NYU’s @erinmorgangore on how non-profits could use the sharing economy & its demands, to improve their own efficiency or help low-paid workers do better, economically.

Chokwe Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, MS was a tremendous supporter of co-ops, and his recent passing was a blow to anyone who supports organizing for better economic equality in the South. Join the folks who are supporting his legacy, by making a donation to their Jackson Rising: New Economies conference.

Despite the fact that Mondragon had a bit of a rocky year, there was still a 32% increase in the founding of new worker-owned coops in Spain last year.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

So you’re telling me you don’t need more things to be creeped out about, privacy-wise? Best not to read this article about license plate scanners and the databases they feed, then.

If we start living with robots, will we trust them with all our secrets? Or forget to shut them down, when we don’t want those secrets recorded?

From Partners

Swedish union Kommunal made this brilliant ad for International Women’s Day, featuring their union’s president doing the fastest thing a woman can do to get paid like a man…

Organizing Theory

If you’re online, and an activist with a smart phone, you’ve probably committed an act of “crowd-enabled connective action,” even if you didn’t know it was called that. Now, researchers are starting to study it. Good luck with those millions of #ows tweets, folks.

Geeking Out

Wanna figure out how your city can build its own fiber optic network, even if Google never comes calling? We’ve got the hookup. Or case study, if you prefer.

Maybe you’ve never worried about how to get online in the remotest parts of Africa—but these folks at BRCK have, and they’re building a tool to make it easier.

Skynet is real folks. It just took a little longer to get here than we thought.

“If you are a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?”

First up–interested in finding out more about the global solidarity network USi Live? Watch my interview with organizer Andrew Brady, here.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

“If you are a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” Um, the same way everyone else does? Are weird interview questions on your job search radar?

Some of us are fighting against unpaid internships…others of us are making more than the median US income AS INTERNS. Weird, hunh? And speaking of interns…Is fabled film/tech/music conference South by Southwest heading for labor problems with their unpaid intern & volunteer situation? Maybe. Don’t know much about SXSW? Here’s a good history.

Wondering what it’s like to work in an Amazon warehouse in the UK? Wonder no more.

British economist Robert Sidelsky opines about the likelihood of technological unemployment—and why we can’t assume that Luddites of the modern day will be as wrong as their forbears were. Related: It’s not just that driverless cars will kill driving jobs—they’ll likely put auto insurance companies in a tailspin too.

Bernadette Hyland looks at the transition in her local economy in Manchester UK, where a generation of retired women factory workers are now being cared for by a younger generation of women—but these care workers don’t have nearly the wage or benefit standards that the factory women did. How will the caregivers pay, when they need to be care receivers?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Already hosted your Peers Swap and still have stuff left to give? Here’s a new way to recycle your used clothes.

Do you have an idea for a sharing site to share a specific service or product? Near-Me wants to help you get online with it.

The sharing economy runs on the reputations of its users & providers. Trustribe is working to provide a one-stop reputation shop for the apps of the sharing economy.

Is car-sharing the solution to the world’s pollution problems? Probably not, but it’s a step in the right direction.

From Partners

Last week, we mentioned the report that looked at state-level inequality—here’s a new one from the Brookings Institute that drills down to find the most unequal US cities.

“The fact that the law allows America’s biggest companies to shelter almost half of their US profits from tax, while ordinary wage earners have to report every penny of their earnings, has to undermine public respect for the tax system.” From a new report by Citizens for Tax Justice about how US corporations often pay more tax overseas than at home.

Geeking Out

It’s 2014, people. If you’re hosting a conference, or organizing a panel or a workshop—make sure you have women on it. If not, GenderAvenger will be on the case.

Is wearable technology a human right? Steve Mann asks, why we would allow property to have always-on security, and not people?

Organizing Theory

Fascinating article by Sasha Issenberg about the technology & theory of identifying volunteers, in the modern age. Mostly about political campaigns, but has some lessons that are good for all of us who want to engage volunteers at a high level.

Been working on a keen new idea in labor law reform? The Labour Law Research Network is soliciting papers, for their conference in Amsterdam, June 2015.

Interesting stuff about using data to develop arguments in policy campaigns.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Cory Doctorow utterly shreds the Chicago Police Department’s pre-crime algorithm theory. If you’ve ever had “questionable” associations, read this. (I have no other kinds of associations, personally. My poor children.)

Final Thoughts

“No matter which hardship index we use, (low) wage reliant mothers had more hardships than welfare-reliant mothers.”

Kathryn Edin & Laura Lein, Making Ends Meet

“We are a struggle machine, if we choose to see ourselves this way.”

Hi folks–another exciting announcement this week–Julia Carrie Wong is joining us as a new writer on the blog. Look for new original content to start rolling out in the week of March 10th!

Organizing Theory

“We are a struggle machine, if we choose to see ourselves this way.” Great video interview with Change to Win’s Valerie Alzaga about the international organizing model used by the SEIU Justice for Janitors campaign—including how the union saw changing their organizing model for existing members as a critical piece of strengthening the ability to organize new workers. Long, but super worth it.

Americans are watching even less live TV than ever—ditching it in favor of mobile video. What does this mean for people who are buying campaign ads?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Car sharing moves further into the EU, with new service, Wundercar, launching in Berlin. Meanwhile, could self-driving cars upend the concept of car-sharing?

Peers & Social Capital Markets are hosting a two-day conference in San Francisco in May, to talk about the sharing economy. To get updates, click here.

Are all for-profit firms inherently cooperatives?

From Partners

In the US and looking for state-specific data on income inequality? Check out this new report from the Economic Policy Institute, featuring work by friend-o-the-blog Mark Price, the most profane economist I know.

Geeking Out

Amazed by some of the Olympic coverage? Thank a camera mounted on a drone.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

These college students are pushing a crazy idea in income egalitarianism—namely, that the president of their college shouldn’t make more than 10X the salary of their lowest-paid workers.

Freelancers in the EU have launched a fundraising campaign to be able to lobby in Brussels, to make sure freelance labor is counted, and to ensure they’ve got a seat at the table when new laws are being written. The goal? 5,000 euros.

I’d be curious to hear the Teamsters’ side of this story, but it sounds like UPS did some smart thinking about how to roll out computer-assisted route-mapping to their drivers—and saving 98 million minutes of idling time in one year is no joke.

“A world in which a healthy adult has the reasonable expectation of earning a decent living while working full-time at a market wage is absolutely a world in which the dignity of work is a useful social value to cultivate. In a world in which that is not a reasonable expectation, the dignity of work can be a harmful concept.” ~The Economist. Let that sink in.

It’s a common theory that the easiest jobs to automate are the ones that require the least education—but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.

Sometimes I feel like we’ve got a problem of overwork AND a problem of underwork. Can we just get some balance?

Awesome look at regulations on the use of temp workers, in the US and around the world, from ProPublica.

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Are we allowing ourselves to be shut out of options in life because we’re trapped in algorithmic prisons?

“We need to update our nightmares.”

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

“We need to update our nightmares.” Zeynep Tufekci on the double-edge of tools that can be used for both resistance & surveillance.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The statement, “the economics (of the sharing economy) make sense” is up for debate, IMO.

But it’s also true that the old economy wasn’t working for many of us either. What’s the middle ground going to look like? Freelancers’ Union has an interesting interview up with Janelle Orsi, a lawyer who specializes in sharing economy legal questions. These researchers looked at the impact AirBnB is having on hotels in one US city. Amsterdam has done some revisions to their business permitting, to make it easier for private home-owners to rent rooms or apartments on AirBnB. Ride-sharing is one solution to a taxi shortage. Taxi-sharing is another. Would you split a cab to the airport?

Andrew Bibby has started a six-part series, for the Guardian, on co-op business models. Here’s the first entry—“Can co-ops compete?”

From Partners

LA folks—you might be interested in this conference, being organized at UCLA next week “Race, Labor & the Law”.

Geeking Out

Will machine learning mean that Google eventually knows when you’re home to receive a package, via drone or driverless car? Maybe.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

We move ever-closer to a world of distributed workforce, at least for white-collar workers. Here’s an interesting infographic that shows growth of co-working.

If you want to know why so many fast food & retail employees are rising up lately, check out this blog post from the Peet’s Workers Group—I haven’t seen a better round up describing the set of practices called the Disposable Employee Model.

“If someone has been in an internship long enough that they no longer need any training, then it’s no longer an internship: it is a job without pay.” Yup.

Does the UAW’s narrow loss at VW last week give them an opening to experiment with minority unionism?

Organizing Theory

Should worker centers & other Alt-Labor groups explicitly disavow their intentions to negotiate with employers, in order to protect themselves against injunctions for secondary boycotts? Michael Duff, professor at University of Wyoming’s law school argues they should, in this paper.

You wanna get members involved in online activism? Check out this FB page, that’s engaging teachers by getting them to post pictures in their schools of repairs that are being put off, while new technology is being purchased.

Is your non-profit spending more to get new donations, while failing to attract repeat donors? Bloomerang claims they can help stop the bleeding. And while we’re on the subject of fundraising—if you’re looking to kickstarter.com to start a project—you might want to read this first. Taxes will be paid!

“These technologies are not enabling people to meet their potential; they’re instead exploiting people.”

ICYMI—I wrote a post at the end of last week about Universal Basic Income…if you’re interested in that subject, you might join this FB group, promoting labor’s involvement in that struggle.

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

Moshe Marvit’s got the story of the week in the Nation, about how Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service is creating a new kind of exploitation among online workers, who are largely uncovered by existing labor law, and get paid an estimated $2 per hour.

If a 3D printer can print a house in 24 hours, what will that mean for the construction trades?

What can a swarm of robots do that a swarm of humans can’t?

UK university lecturers are striking for a third time, after being told they’d be docked a full day’s pay for a two hour strike.

If you’re interested in precarious work for academics in the US, you might want to follow this tumblr, which features stories by folks who are stuck in the dumps of precarious work, like this one.

Organizing Theory

Are you thinking about how to use mobile as part of your online fundraising strategy, or wondering how to raise money from millennials? Are you fighting right-wing attacks that will make it harder for your union to collect dues through paycheck deduction? You might want to check out this article by TechPresident on innovation in the “frictionless donation” world.

Developing a blogger outreach program for your organization? Read these tips.

From Partners

Communicopia has done an update of their 2012 report on how non-profit organizations integrate digital into their organizing theory. Hybrid teams work best, it seems.

Geeking Out

I can’t wait until every conference is full of iPads on wheels, video streaming us all as we sit on our own couches. For a vision of that future, click here.

Teenager uses 3D printer to make a robohand for neighbor kid who was born missing fingers. Verklempt.

In the “You REALLY Can’t Make This Up” department—a new Disney video features lovable surveillance drones.

Are Twitter bots a new kind of public art, that make us question our relationship to algorithms? Maybe.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Is the city of Chicago discriminating against traditional taxi drivers by refusing the regulate sharing-economy ride services? This lawsuit says they are.

The National Worker Cooperative Conference is being held in Chicago from May 30-June 1. More info on that here.

Workers who have taken over factories in the EU and beyond gathered in Marseille last month to talk best practices, and brainstorm ways to include their communities in their struggles for self-determination.

An excellent article about how a black-owned consumer co-op in South Carolina helped launch the voting rights movement.

Final Thoughts

“…it’s easy to get rich by getting a state asset at a deep discount.”

Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality