the emergency as a tool of labour discipline 

From The Boy Kings, by Katherine Losse, pg 191. It’s interesting to compare accounts of working life in social media companies to those of early tech giants like Microsoft. What were once exceptional states, in which people devoted themselves 24/7 to work in order to ensure the success of a product launch, now come to characterise working life as a whole.

In the late spring of 2009, we moved to a new, sprawling campus in an old Hewlett- Packard building. Mark’s desk was purposefully positioned in the building’s dead center, on the lower floor, nearly underground. He called the building a bunker. We were starting to dominate the social media game completely now, to Mark’s sometime chagrin. While he wanted to win, he preferred us always to be in a state of emergency, on lockdown, so that we had to devote ourselves entirely to the company and its mission. Sometimes, when people didn’t feel stressed enough, he called official lockdown periods, during which employees were required to work on weekends and late into the night. Lock- down periods were often called when some new, other social product, like Foursquare or Tumblr, came on the scene and we needed to mount some serious resistance by incorporating a version of it into Facebook’s feature set, like the Places product (Facebook’s answer to Foursquare, which was eventually superseded by general location tagging similar to that of Google+ or Twitter).

About Mark