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The Sociology of Platforms

Reluctantly cut from my digital sociology paper Indeed, as Srnicek (2016) argues, this dynamics is integral to the nature of the platform itself, as a business model premised upon maximising opportunities for data extraction through situating itself as an intermediary between the interactions of existing actors. Each platform has an […]

Platform capitalism or sharing economy?

From Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, loc 1290: I am using the term “platform capitalism,” introduced by Sascha Lobo77 and Martin Kenney, to bypass the fraudulent togetherness of terms like “peer,” “sharing,” and “economy.” How can we talk about genuine sharing or innovation when a third party immediately monetizes […]

Platform capitalism or sharing economy?

From Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, loc 1290: I am using the term “platform capitalism,” introduced by Sascha Lobo77 and Martin Kenney, to bypass the fraudulent togetherness of terms like “peer,” “sharing,” and “economy.” How can we talk about genuine sharing or innovation when a third party immediately monetizes […]

What is platform cooperativism?

An admirably concise definition by Trebor Scholz on loc 432 of Uberworked and Underpaid: This term can be briefly described as follows: First, it is about cloning the technological heart of Uber, Task Rabbit, Airbnb, or UpWork. Platform cooperativism creatively embraces, adapts, or reshapes technologies of the sharing economy, putting […]

Mobilising a sharing economy revolution

One of the most interesting things about so-called sharing economy companies is their mobilisation of users in defence of their political objectives. This is something which can prove uniquely urgent because of the sheer number of municipalities in which they operate, leaving them exposed to regulatory backlash particularly given their […]

Building the cult of airbnb

From The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 3490: In January 2013, Chesky hired a new head of community who shared his devotion to the cause —Douglas Atkin, a former advertising agency executive who had written a 2005 book, The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers, that drew […]

Airbnb and the Myth of ‘Us’

Reading this section in Brad Stone’s The Upstarts, it occurred to me this faith* displayed by the airbnb founders is an interesting example of what Nick Couldry describes as ‘the myth of us’. From loc 2171: EJ had also raised fundamental questions about the safety of users on its site […]

Technology, regulation and disruption

One recurring theme in Brad Stone’s excellent The Upstarts is how technological assumptions encoded into legislation become focal points for conflicts with ‘disruptive’ companies. For instance, as loc 2348 illustrates, the novel dispatch system used by Uber complicated the distinction between taxis and livery cars: Stressing that Uber cars were not […]

Uber as a moral project

When the Uber co-founders recount the story of their project, they stress the importance of the consumer to it. This might seem like familiar rhetoric but I want to suggest it reflects a deep (and problematic) commitment. In The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, we see how the early idea for Uber […]

The spammy origins of Airbnb 

From The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, Loc 1519-1533: In late 2009, a few months after it had graduated from YC, Airbnb appeared to create a mechanism that automatically sent an e-mail to anyone who posted a property for rent on Craigslist, even if that person had specified that he did […]

The monopoly bias in the sharing economy

This struck me as an interesting case that reveals a broader truth about the sharing economy. A description of the very early merger of two companies offering city wide access to unused capacity in fitness classes, from Sweat Equity, by Jason Kelly, loc 1343: “When you look at quality fitness inventory […]

From Platform Capitalism to Protocol Communism

A really interesting suggestion from loc 3681-3691 from Douglas Rushkoff’s Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: In terms of fully decentralized commerce, these platform cooperatives are still just steps along the way to digital distributism. As long as there’s a central platform—a Web site or other hub to maintain—there will always […]

What makes the sharing economy go round?

A question I’ve been asking myself since I reluctantly started using Uber a few months ago: what makes the sharing economy go round? ‘Uberness‘ does: Uber rides require some “Uberness” from both the client and riders. We’re commited to making sure to work with quality drivers and do our best […]