Digital Labour

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 5.51.45 pm The term Digital Labor recognises the shift in sites of labor from physical locations to the Internet. Digital Labor can take the form of digital sweatshops but also of internet prosumers.

digital sweatshop is an online company that recruits people to perform repetitive small jobs and /or specialized projects, generally at home on the workers’ own computers, from a wage of anything from a few cents per task to hundreds of dollars per project. Digital sweatshops represent a phenomenon in a recent trend that offers workers and the employers the freedom to accept and request services. However, some believe that completing repetitive tasks for very small amount of money is an act of exploitation, hence the term sweatshop. A notable example is the Amazon Mechanical Turk, a marketplace dedicated to crowdsourcing, but other examples of online staffing platforms include: Odesk, Glance, Guru, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour. Fifteen years ago, this industry did not exist. But today (after an acceleration starting around 2007) it generates about $1B+ in global revenues, consists of over 50 firms, and is growing at high double-digit growth rates.

Users: Internet users currently create most of the content that makes up the web: they search, link, tweet, and post updates—leaving their “deep” data exposed. Meanwhile, governments listen in, and big corporations track, analyze, and predict users’ interests and habits. In this way, the division between leisure and work has disappeared such that every aspect of life drives the digital economy. This has also been termed playbor (play/labor), the lure of exploitation and the potential for empowerment.

‘ Six major players account for about half of the total industry segment revenues in 2012, but it can be expected that future market/industry expansion will also be based on now-smaller or not-yet-formed players.” [8] In March 2013, Staffing Industry Analysts, projected that the “online staffing” segment would grow to $5B by 2018.[9] Online marketplaces often manage the payments and make money by charging membership fees and/or “marking up” on the billings of the contractors/freelancers. The mark-ups can range from 5 percent to 15 percent. In general, these mark-ups are significantly less than the mark-ups of traditional staffing firms, which usually—technically—enter into an employment relationship with their workers.[10] The company describes itself as an online workplace. As of December 2012, oDesk had 2.7 million freelancers and 540,000 clients worldwide.[17] In January 29, 2012, the company reported that its top 5 countries (in terms of dollars spent for oDesk contractor services) were (in rank order): (1) US, (2) Australia, (3) Canada, (4) UK, and (5) United Arab Emirates.[18] oDesk reported that services paid by clients hiring through the site for the year totaled $360 million in 2012.[18] Competitors[edit]

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