Are you ready to spend $8/month renting jeans?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The circular economy means companies who want to reduce waste will buy back old goods. I’m not sure I’m up to rent a pair of jeans for E6/month, though.

Cities are starting to figure out ways to use public policy to support cooperative and solidarity economies. Here are five US cities that are thinking creatively about it.

AirBnB CEO talks about how the sharing economy may be better at policing community standards than government regulations. Color me skeptical.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Yeah, the fallout from that Facebook study isn’t going away anytime soon. Here, Senator Warner (D-VA) writes to the FTC asking them to investigate.

Organizing Theory

For those of us who have spent way too much time either running around group meetings with a microphone, or standing awkwardly onstage waiting for someone else to do that—CrowdMic seems like a great solution. Turn every smartphone in the audience into a wireless mic.

From Partners

When a campaign is in crisis mode, it can be hard for online campaigners to drill down metrics to campaign leaders. Here’s how Greenpeace shifted their internal campaign reporting strategy, during the fight to free the Arctic 30.

Geeking Out

The BRCK, a new router designed for getting online in places where internet connectivity is unreliable, had its launch in Nairobi last week.

Could a tax on financial transactions bail out the global economy? There’s only one way to find out, IMO.

Is the self-driving car closer than you think?

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

UK workers have the biggest gap in the EU between hours spent at work and hours agreed-on, contractually. (In the US, of course, we’ve only got two options—work too much or too little.)

The Venezualans are about to let women who worked as stay-at-home mothers claim a pension, in a startling advance in gender equity.

Here’s a good look at what it’s like to try to earn $6/hour as a Mechanical Turk. Not too easy.

Elevating the use of Apple’s iBeacon to new levels of creepy time clock management is Punchclock.

Final Thoughts

I’m at Netroots Nation this week–so if you’re here, look me up! I’ve got stickers…


“It’s ‘just’ financial journalism…”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Wanna make sure your kids have jobs in the world of the future? Get them into robot design while they’re young.

Will everything eventually be free? And if so, how will we know who’s winning?

“The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true.” Google co-founders agree—there’s not going to be enough work for everyone in the future. They’re promoting part-time work (but at part-time pay?), and maybe we should stop doing “dumb things like destroy(ing) the environment…” VentureBeat looks at the economic recovery and its tendency to force full-time employees into part-time work.

“It’s ‘just’ financial journalism…” Did we learn nothing from the recession?

Organizing Theory

Greenpeace has some great lessons to share, for folks who are running an industry-wide campaign that targets multiple corporations—in this case, those in fast fashion.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

You probably heard about the revelation that Facebook has been experimenting on whether they can change your mood by showing you positive or negative posts. Here, Zeynep Tufekci examines how that level of data mining and manipulation can be used by political campaigns. Could Facebook swing an election?

Should you buy Twitter followers for yourself or your organization? Maybe.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

How do we make sure that, as we build a new economy, it has a moral compass, and doesn’t just replicate the old way of doing business?

Sit on a park bench and charge your cell phone via the sun? Yes, please.

Final Thoughts

“Ignoring short-term distraction is what creates speed.”

Brett Scott, The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money

Is email the cockroach of the internet?

Organizing Theory

Is email the cockroach of the internet? If so, I’m infested. Nevertheless, email newsletters are still effective at reaching readers. 

Original Content

New post from Douglas Williams this week, explaining the backstory of the Harris v. Quinn decision, and some thoughts about what it might all mean.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Still wondering if a guaranteed basic income makes economic sense? One recent study from Mexico showed that if the government sent people cash instead of food—they mostly spent it on food. But the money went farther.

Ride-sharing in your personal car is one thing (in fact, it’s this thing)—but trying to “share” a parking space that is, in fact, owned by the public is not okay.

Geeking Out

Driving across Canada this summer? These artists hope you will pick up their hitchhiking robot, if you happen to run across it.

And speaking of artists—this woman has transformed herself into a corporation, so that she can retain & profit from sole control of her own data.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Anchorpeople beware. The android newscaster has been launched in Japan.

This heat map shows the percentage of low-wage workers that would benefit from a minimum wage increase, by congressional district.

Have you thought about transitioning your business (or the business that employs workers you represent) to a worker-owned co-op? Here’s a good step by step walk through of the process. Relatedly, Hilary Abell has a new paper out about moving worker coops to scale.

Last week, the Freelancer’s Union launched a national benefits platform to provide health care, dental, life insurance and more for freelancers in the US.

Recap of the Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn.

Case: Harris v. Quinn

Question being answered by decision: Are the First Amendment rights of public employees who do not wish to join a union violated when those workers have to pay a representation fee to their union?

Prior to the decision: In 1947, the Michigan Legislature passed, and Gov. Kim Sigler (R) signed, the Hutchison Act. This Act established the rules under which Michigan’s government employees at the state and municipal levels would be able to form labor unions and collectively bargain. It was designed to regularize labor-management relations in the public sector and locate workers’ rights under one statute, rather than having a patchwork of state laws governing the workplace. But the law was also quite harsh in its treatment of public employees engaging in collective action: Any employee that engaged in strike action was to be terminated from their employment forthwith. The Michigan Legislature would eventually return to the table and drastically alter Hutchison with Public Act 379, which would become known as the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA). This new law brought the Michigan statutes in line with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and granted public employees the right to form unions. Amongst many other things, PERA created a mechanism by which workers could elect a particular union to represent them at the bargaining table and required that all public employees pay an agency fee to the union that represented them. Agency fees are important because the NLRA requires that a union represent all those who are in the bargaining unit equally, regardless of their membership status; mandating the paying of representation fees gets a union over the free-rider problem that plagues unions in so-called “right-to-work” states.

This fee was too much for some Detroit teachers, who felt that they were being forced to pay into an organization whose political goals they disagreed with. Detroit educator D. Louis Abood filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Board of Education in 1969, two years after the Detroit Federation of Teachers became the bargaining agent for the city’s K-12 teachers. While the case wound its way towards the U.S. Supreme Court, the Michigan Supreme Court found in another case that state law prohibited the agency shop; this discrepancy was resolved through a 1973 statute legalizing the agency fee. When Abood hit the state’s highest court again, they found the 1973 statute constitutional with the caveat that the fees had to go towards non-political activities. The U.S. Supreme Court would find no differently in May 1977, rejecting the plaintiffs’ arguments that collective bargaining was “inherently political” and that the Hanson and Street decisions which prior courts had relied on for their rulings were limited to the private sector only.

Abood provided a way for public sector unions to virtually eliminate their free-rider problem, provided they did not operate in a state with “right-to-work” laws.

The lead-up to today’s decision: The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill in 2003 that designated home care workers as state employees with the purpose of allowing them the right to collectively bargain with the state. After Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) signed the legislation, a majority of workers voted to affiliate with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), making them the workers’ bargaining representative. Patricia Harris and seven other home care workers filed suit against the state of Illinois, arguing essentially the same case that D. Louis Abood had argued nearly 40 years ago: that joining the union was an infringement on their First Amendment rights. Judging from the oral arguments and the justices’ reactions to them, as well as the decision in Knox v. SEIU that declared the protections laid out in Abood to be “an anomaly”, most seemed to be expecting that the Court would find for the plaintiffs. This became even less shocking when Justice Samuel Alito, who authored Knox, was revealed to have also written Harris. We were largely waiting on the scope of the ruling, and whether it would end the precedent set forth in Abood.

Decision: The 5-4 decision in favor of the appellants did not overturn Abood, but it essentially limited the precedent to full-time public employees. As Benjamin Sachs points out in a great roundup of his own over at On Labor, the language of the decision spoke loud and clear: Alito wanted to completely overturn Abood. He devotes all of Part II, Section D (pgs. 17-20) to pointing out the reasons why Abood should not be allowed to stand: the 1977 court misunderstood the rulings, the differences between public and private sector employees should have been given more weight, the line between representation costs and political activity is blurred in public sector unionism, and that exclusive representation does not depend on classification as an agency shop. My guess is that Justice Antonin Scalia, who recognized the free rider problem faced by labor unions in his partial affirmation in Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, did not see a need to strike down Abood for these reasons. In any case, the framing of the decision practically begs for a full challenge to Abood from organizations like the National Right to Work Committee, representing someone who would be considered a “full-fledged” public employee. Justice Alito also argues that because Illinois law dramatically limits the role of the state in dealings between a patient and their home care worker, the Abood precedent did not apply here.

Implications: This deals a big blow to those unions who organize in the home care industry, as the decision essentially makes the industry “right-to-work”. As Prof. Sachs points out, the unions will find a way to get around this; I agree with that sentiment, having written about the struggles of building unions in right-to-work states previously. It also has a gendered component as well, as Sarah Jaffe points out in her piece for In These Times. The only home care workers I have ever known, not just in my personal life but also in my very brief time organizing for the Missouri Home Care Union, were Black women. And as Roland Zullo points out in his 2012 article for Labor Studies Journal, this particular group of employees is the most likely to enter unionized employment from either unemployment or non-union employment. For a Supreme Court that seems willing to reverse the few labor rights that workers have in their corner, it is obvious that they would seek to halt the drive to organize a large group of underpaid care workers. Others have noted that this increases the importance of voting for a Democrat in the next presidential election but, considering the union-busters in President Obama’s cabinet and some of his nominees for the lower courts, to say nothing of the likely Republican filibuster of any decent nominee that would switch the Court’s composition, that seems like a bit of a stretch. The best line of defense against a ruling like this will come from the organizers and field representatives on the ground, engaging in quality service of their membership and negotiating contracts that will bring workers into the fold.

Kagan’s dissent: In a dissent joined by Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer, Justice Elena Kagan laid out the case for why Abood is sufficient for a finding in favor of the state of Illinois. She points out that while the person receiving care sets the terms of employment in that particular context, the state sets parameters for the industry’s operation as a whole. That gives the state more than the small interest that Alito’s decision limits it to, and undermines a key argument for said decision. Kagan also gets into an area that Alito’s decision misses, presumably because it is close to the bottom of his priority list: The working conditions experienced by those who provide home care. In addition to feeding, clothing, bathing, and cleaning, sometimes they have to deal with the attitudes of those they serve; the home care worker that worked with my Uncle Junior after his stroke had to deal with his abuse as much as we did. Because of this, the industry is notorious for having high amounts of turnover, which can be destabilizing for patients at a time when a familiar face can make all the difference. Kagan also hit out at Alito’s notion that because workers are all paid the same according to state law, that there was no need for an agency agreement. This sounds ridiculous on its face and Kagan hammers him on it, pointing out the benefits that all workers have accrued because of the SEIU’s bargaining on their behalf. This is the important part, however, and signals what Alito is trying to accomplish with his opinion: “The idea that Abood applies only if a union can bargain with the State over every issue comes from nowhere and relates to nothing in that decision—and would revolutionize public labor law.”

Additional reading: Matthew Heron, Public Employment Law in Michigan and the Unfair Labor Practice Strike (2002).

“…hackers may be their own worst enemies.”

Original Content

Have you seen Douglas Williams’ new post, “Occupying the 21st Century: The Rise of Leftism in American Youth Organizing” yet? If you like our original content, consider contributing to Hack the Union via Patreon

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…the companies run by the CEOs who were paid at the top 10% of the scale, had the worst performance…” Forbes reports on a study out of the University of Utah’s School of Business.

There probably hasn’t been a region more impacted by technology than the Bay Area. The SF Chronicle took an in-depth look at how the sharing economy is playing out through AirBnB rentals in SF…

Want a storefront, but only want to rent it for one day? Check out Storefront.

From Partners

Economic Policy Institute has a new paper out detailing why raising wages is the central economic challenge for the US right now. Friend of the blog Mariya Strauss wrote a post about why raising women’s pay, in particular, would be good for the economy.

Organizing Theory

SEIU UHW’s Dave Regan has a proposal for how unions can expand political access through ballot initiative access in 24 states. Since I’m spending most of this week at a training on how to run ballot initiative campaigns, it’s of particular interest to me.

And also out of SEIU–Local 775 president (and early backer of this effort) David Rolf, on how labor should learn lessons from start-up culture, by investing deeply, innovating often, and not being afraid to fail.

Geeking Out

Want to play a game that will teach you all about supply chains? Check out Factorio.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

The Freelancer’s Union just put out a report on the growth of their membership—and some inferences about what’s going on with freelancers more generally.

Last week, the story of a man who automated a co-worker’s job. This week? A man who outsourced his own.

Tech journalist Quinn Norton interviews her mother on what it’s like to be poor and uninsured in the US.

Will you like it better when your boss is a robot?  How about if it’s your lawyer? (Insert obligatory lawyer joke here.)

You thought the automation of waitstaff was just about reducing labor costs? It’s more insidious than that. Turns out, the real reason Chili’s wants a tablet to take your order, instead of a human, is so that you’ll order more food.

Final Thoughts

“…hackers may be their own worst enemies. By claiming that the Net is uncontrollable, they are absenting themselves from the process of creating the system that will control it. Having given up any attempt to set the rules, they are allowing the rules to be set for them. Corporations are by no means intrinsically malign, but it is folly to think that their interests will always dovetail with those of the public.”

Charles Mann, “Taming the Web”, Technology Review (September 2001)

Occupying the 21st Century: The Rise of Leftism in American Youth Organizing

In 2010, the Pew Research Poll did a survey measuring people’s reactions to different political philosophies. They found that even though all age groups in America were opposed to socialism, the highest proportion of support, 43 percent, came in the 18-29-year old bracket. When they repeated the survey 18 months later, they found that young people now favored socialism more than they did capitalism in addition to giving socialism a plus-six favorability margin.

That finding made national news. After all, it had been 87 years since a leftist candidate carried a state in a presidential election (Robert M. LaFollette carried his home of Wisconsin in 1924) and 72 years since the last socialist governor in America stepped down (Gov. Elmer Austin Benson from Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party, who left office in 1939). Sewer socialism had long since gone out of style, with Milwaukee’s Frank Zeidler serving as the last socialist mayor of a major city until he left office in 1960. In that period, we have experienced: an embargo against Cuba, the ramping up (and eventual defeat) of American forces in Vietnam, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the 1972 humiliation of George McGovern, Reaganism, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2010, we watched as Republicans successfully painted President Obama, who is a DLC-style centrist at best, as a socialist on their way to a 63-seat gain in the House.

But some things have happened since that dark day in November of 2010 that has given rise to a leftist tendency in America’s youth.

With the recession lifting the slowest for young people across the world and normally sympathetic governments introducing punishing austerity measures, young people started taking to the streets across the world in 2010. The most well known of these were the Indignados movements that gripped both Spain and Greece. The sometimes deadly protests against government’s acquiescence to unrestrained capital unleashed realignments in both countries politics: Spain’s center-left Socialists suffered a historic defeat while the United Left and Podemos have risen on the scene, and Greece’s long-dominant party of the center-left, PASOK, suffered a similar humiliation at the same time the left-wing SYRIZA party sextupled their vote between 2009 and 2012.

Much like that critically-acclaimed Japanese horror movie that finally makes its way to America, so too did these movements come from abroad in the form of Occupy Wall Street and its governing body, the New York City General Assembly. Their occupation of Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park became a lightning rod in a nation where mass protests of rapacious capitalism had not been en vogue since the Johnson administration. The rallying cry of “We Are The 99%” rung out from Lower Manhattan and touched disaffected youth across America, and the Occupy movement itself would eventually extend its reach just as much. Cities as diverse as Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Columbia, Missouri. Hell, there was even an Occupy Tuscaloosa group that organized out of the University Presbyterian Church not far from campus. Many, if not all, of these Occupy groups were led by young people.

But as many have pointed out, Occupy Wall Street did not lead to a concrete gain in support for one political agenda or another. You did not see new political parties sweep out of nowhere on a national scale, and the electoral successes that leftists have had are on a very local scale. President Obama was re-elected, in part, by co-opting the message of the “99 percent” during the 2012 campaign; of course, many of his moves since then have been in the service of, well, anyone but the working class. But you did see folks like Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, who famously referred to herself as laying the “intellectual foundation” for Occupy Wall Street, sweep to the United States Senate that same year. And were it not for Occupy Wall Street’s message of reducing inequalities, would we be talking about a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont as a legitimate threat to the Democrats’ chances of winning a third consecutive presidential election? And while the victory of Kshama Sawant in Seattle might have been functionally been a drop in the bucket, the fact that she won in a city that young people have flocked to (and stayed put) during the recession should give naysayers a bit of pause.

One organization that came out of the Occupy movement was the Ohio Student Association (OSA). This youth-led organization began in the winter of 2012 when Will Klatt, Stuart McIntyre, and other youth from across Ohio came together in Columbus to form a group that would advocate for Ohio’s youth on the issue of student debt, which is higher today than it has ever been. They got to work in fairly short order, helping to put together a national organizing conference for student leftists in Columbus that summer. The National Student Power Convergence featured seminars, breakout sessions, keynotes from people like Naomi Klein and organizers of the Quebec student protests ongoing at the time, and a march to the Obama for America office near Ohio State University to protest all the ways in which the Obama administration has left young people behind.

After the 2012 elections, they faced the challenge that all youth-based organizations face at some point: How do we keep youth interested and involved? The “moments of intensity” that power student organizations, as McIntyre described them to me, were self-evident in 2012 with a presidential election dumping millions into the Buckeye State and a hotly-contested U.S. Senate race, both won by Democrats. But moving into 2013, how were they going to continue the momentum that they had built up? The answer was to shift the focus from college campuses and the issues those students face to a broader focus on community-building and organizing around issues that affect all youth. According to McIntyre, “Many of us went to urban public schools in Ohio, and so we built a base that looks like the schools we went to. And while many of the students involved were still college students, many of their friends and families chose not to attend college due to financial concerns. We have never wavered in our commitment to educational justice.” As a part of that shift, the OSA organized around issues that affect a broader cross-section of young people like Stand Your Ground and the school-to-prison pipeline. They also participated in the celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer, where racial justice activists from all over the country gathered in Mississippi to register Black voters in 1964; it was also a movement that paralleled today’s progressive organizing in the large numbers of youth that were involved.

With all of their successes, it was natural that I would ask Klatt and McIntyre what they would suggest to leftist youth in places like Alabama who seek to form their groups committed to social justice and educational equality. Their answer was clear: long-term planning.

Klatt’s assertion that 90 percent of organizing groups like the OSA is dependent on ground conditions is an important one; the desire for instant gratification is strong for organizers of all ages in areas where progressivism and leftism feels relegated to a kind of permanent minority status. We often look for the perfect leader, candidate, or philosophy that will lead us to organizational or policy gains, and we are disappointed just as frequently. The forces aligned against the young, poor, and workers were not assembled in a day or an election cycle, and so it will go for the entities that organize to defeat such reactionary forces. This is why groups like The Dream Defenders are so important to the future of youth activism: they are able to clearly define the issues that affect our communities and execute actions that will highlight just how destructive our political system can be towards them.

The future is bright for those who wish for a more inclusive and just vision for American society.

Will better facial recognition mean we need to protect the right to lie?

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Will we someday need to advocate for the right to lie, because Google Glass could let wearers know you might be lying?

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

If you’ve never clicked on a video (or if you’ve clicked on all of them) in this newsletter…click on this one. Not only the best meeting I’ve been to this year—basically, the fundamental question I am asking with this blog.

Before we have self-driving cars, we’ll have self-driving trucks.

Robot-assisted surgery might be safer and more cost-effective than that featuring only humans.

Read one man’s story of how he automated the job of a co-worker…kinda by accident.

Robot security guard. That looks like a Dalek. Sort of.

From Partners

How does CEO pay increase stock distribution to shareholders at the expense of job creation? This new Roosevelt Institute report shows us the way.  And on a related note—Walmart really has figured out how to game the (tax) system.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Why do some sharing economy participants want to get paid for their “sharing?” Because they’re getting screwed by the economy in many other ways.

A good look at the Jackson Rising conference, and the movement behind democratization of the South’s economy.

Do you have an idea for a new sharing project in your community? Shareable wants to give you a grant of up to $1,000 to support it. Apply online before June 20th.


“…we have an economic system that, by its very nature, will always reward people who make other people’s lives worse…”

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

“…we have an economic system that, by its very nature, will always reward people who make other people’s lives worse and punish those that make them better.” David Graeber expands on his theory of “bullshit jobs.”

Good news, art majors—Dilbert says, in a world of complete automation, artists will be king! Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 2.40.46 PM

The Chamber of Commerce says it will cost US businesses $700 million to estimate their CEO-to-average worker pay ratio. Aren’t those guys supposed to be the Big Data experts?

Paris Bakery workers have been occupying their worksite for a week, to protest the fact that many of them have up to 3 months’ worth of unpaid wages—and to keep the boss from emptying out the facility.

Geeking Out

Do you want an open-source, encrypted method for video chat & meetings that DOESN’T require reliance on Google? Try jitsi.

From Partners

Center for Popular Democracy is launching a new campaign called the Fair Workweek Initiative, to fight for predictable schedules for retail & other low-paid workers.  As for me, I personally feel like we’re moving more and more toward a world where white collar workers complain about being too busy, and service sector workers are struggling to put together enough hours to get by… Here’s an interesting perspective on how to know when to stop working, if you freelance (or otherwise work for yourself). And check out this new magazine that was created specifically for freelancers.

“I don’t have to be degraded for a couple more dollars.” Restaurant Opportunity Center has a great video series about #livingofftips—watch this one about the link between sexual harassment and tipped work.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Instead of building a separate ecosystem of civic-ly hacking apps—why not build civic possibility into apps that are already on the phones of millions of users? For some good examples of that, check out this article about using your smartphone for climate science. “It makes people feel like science isn’t just this kind of remote thing done by people in white coats in labs, but something rather more approachable.”

Felix Salmon looks at the economics of driving for Uber.

“Interpersonal forms of sharing are not enough to deliver social justice or environmental sustainability.”

Here’s an interesting idea—this reverse food truck collects food for the hungry, instead of selling it.

Organizing Theory

Organizer Melissa Byrne tells a story of self, student loan debt, and pushing through to find a long view within herself, even when it got really hard.

Final Thoughts

“Greed may be an inherent part of human nature, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do to temper the consequences of unscrupulous bankers who would exploit the poor & engage in anti-competitive practices. We can & should regulate banks, forbid predatory lending, make them accountable for their fraudulent practices & punish them for abuses of monopoly power.”

Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality

“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?