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Crowd sourcing technical support: why do user helps corporations?

From Shadow Work, by Craig Lambert, loc 2301. Does anyone know of ethnographies exploring the motivations of those who do this work and the meanings they attach to it? 

Apple online “communities” at discussions.apple.com, for example, include forums for users of most kinds of Apple software, like iTunes and Apple Pay, as well as Apple hardware like iPhones, iPads, and Macintosh desktop computers. Users may join such forums and pose their questions about Apple products. Fellow users will step up and try to provide an answer online, of course at no charge. Even the forum moderators are often simply advanced users. These users are performing serious shadow work—a bonanza for Apple to have shadow-working customers taking over the job of technical support. The corporation is harvesting a dividend of having built a global community of enthusiastic Apple customers. Similar forums exist for Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Quicken, and other vendors, tapping the expertise of customers who are often highly sophisticated technically. Nor are support forums limited to high-tech products. A year ago, I posed a question on the BMW user forum bimmerfest.com about how disconnecting the battery on my BMW 528 had seemingly disabled the  radio. Responses, some of them very helpful and even including photos of the BMW fuse panels with diagrams, poured in from as far away as New Zealand. This peer support eventually led me to a missing fuse that a mechanic had apparently removed and forgotten to replace, and my radio came on again.

Categories: The Intensification of Work The Technological History of Digital Capitalism

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