Tag: work

From the Third Treatise: What Do Ascetic Ideals Means of On The Genealogy of Morality: Much more frequent than this sort of hypnotic general suppression of sensitivity, of susceptibility to pain – which presupposes even rarer forces, above all courage, contempt of opinions, “intellectual stoicism” – is the attempt at a different kind of training against conditions of […]

From Counterculture to Cyberculture, by Fred Turner, presents the fascinating history through which avowed cultural radicals of the 1960s came to generate the present day dogmas of working culture under digital capitalism. In the last week, I’ve written about this in terms of the digital nomad and the digital hipster. These cultural forms are, as […]

In From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner analyses how digital technology came to be seen as capable of liberating the individual, freeing them from the shackles of petty attachments to organisations and places. This is a complex story but it’s one in which cultural entrepreneurs figure prominently, carving out modes of living which later percolated […]

I wrote recently about a short article by Michael Burawoy in which he bemoaned the ascendancy of the spiralists within universities. These relentlessly ambitious new entrants to the university system see it as a theatre within which they can make themselves known, spiralling into the university before once more spiralling out of it to bigger and better […]

There’s an interesting passage in Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, in which he discusses the contrasting experience of Amazon Mechanical Turk by users and workers. From loc 719: While AMT is profiting robustly, 11 it has –following the observations of several workers –not made significant updates to its user interfaces since its inception, and […]

I just came across this term in The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 1828: Enjoying a modicum of momentum, Kalanick leased a new office in San Francisco but had a month before he could move in. Instead of waiting, he took the whole company to Thailand, where they worked eighteen-hour days out of cafés and […]

From Inventing the Future, by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, loc 2429: Work has become central to our very self-conception –so much so that when presented with the idea of doing less work, many people ask, ‘But what would I do?’ The fact that so many people find it impossible to imagine a meaningful life […]

From Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, by Douglas Rushkoff, loc 72-86: A few weeks later, there was nothing to smile about. Protesters in Oakland were now throwing rocks at Google’s buses and broke a window, terrifying employees. Sure, I was as concerned about the company’s practices as anyone, and frustrated by the way Silicon […]

From Intern Nation, by Ross Perlin, loc 2379: (A small-scale survey in the U.K., conducted in 2010, found that a whopping 86 percent of recent graduates and soon-to-be graduates were willing to work for free, despite considering it exploitative.) As the cost of copying and disseminating (but not creating) content has plunged towards zero, no […]

An interesting snippet from Losing The Signal, by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, concerning the lengths to which overzealous mangers would go during the early days of Research In Motion. From pg 39: One RIM manager became so obsessed with deadlines he issued an edict requiring engineers to ask permission before leaving at night. Lazaridis […]

Another concept I was unfamiliar with introduced in David Frayne’s superb Refusal of Work. From pg 210: For most of us, and for good reason, giving up work seems like an extreme solution, and working less is not always a practical option. When the periodic sense of dissatisfaction swells within, most of us resort to a […]

From The Refusal of Work, by David Frayne, pg 199: What do you do? After ‘What is your name?’ and possibly ‘Where are you from?’ this is one of the first questions that strangers usually pose to one another, with convention dictating that this question is almost always an enquiry into our employment situation. ‘What […]

I found this argument, in David Frayne’s excellent Refusal of Work, deeply persuasive. From pg 110: Employment itself can be held partly responsible for the negative experiences of joblessness because, in allowing people only a limited space in which to cultivate other interests, skills and social ties, full-time jobs can often leave people with few personal […]

I’m enjoying The Refusal of Work by David Frayne at the moment. He asks some fundamental questions about the meaning of work in contemporary society. From pg 12: What is so great about work that sees society constantly trying to create more of it? Why, at the pinnacle of society’s productive development, is there still thought […]

I gave a lecture earlier this week about the cultural politics of automation and how this might shape the emergence of mass automation as a primarily structural reality.  I wish I’d seen this Pew poll when I was preparing the lecture: This sense of the inexorability of mass automation is deeply worrying. It’s possible that people might begin to see […]

Much deserved Guardian coverage of the weird phenomenon that is the internet cat video festival. What grips me about things like this is not the fact that people are trying to make money from their cats, but rather that many others people are trying and failing to make money from their cats. Not unlike the aspiring professional […]

I was slightly disappointed by Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism but I’ve come away from it with one core concept stuck in my mind. The author distinguishes between what he calls ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’ enjoyment: the former is that which ‘serves’ social and cultural structures, while the latter is pointless activity which serves no purpose. […]

A really interesting BuzzFeed article about the use of smart phones on building sites to increase efficiency (the 30% of on-site time that is regarded idle, for reasons attributed to ‘miscommunication and disorganisation’) and their implications for workplace surveillance. What’s particularly striking is that inefficiencies are often the result of the complex subcontracting arrangements now […]