Social Media, Insecure Work and New Solidarities

Working group on changing conceptions of work


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UC Berkeley Lecture: Jesse Drew and Glenda Drew, “A Hack in the Odious Machine: Digital Organizing Tools for the Precariat” (April 13, 2015)

13 April 2015, 7:30 to 9:00 PM
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704 

Lectures are free and open to the public. Co-presented with the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative.

Reserve your ticket here

A Hack in the Odious Machine: Digital Organizing Tools for the Precariat

About the lecture: Many high-tech projects that hoist the banner of “innovation” pride themselves on creating “disruption” to established modes of industry and commerce. Yet, often the disruption that ensues comes at the expense of the lives, livelihoods and neighborhoods of people in a vulnerable position on the socio-economic scale. What would a technology of disruption look like that champions the working poor? How can we as technologists, artists, designers and innovators “disrupt” an economic system that has led to shockingly high inequalities of wealth and has damaged an already flawed system of democratic political participation? Stories of Solidarity attempts to do just that, to build a platform of social media where low-wage, part-time, marginal and/or seasonal workers (the precariat) can share their stories, images and videos to others in the same predicament, in order to build new solidarities that can combat inequality. Our Stories of Solidarity project began as a “hack-a-thon” that brought together designers, artists and computer programmers to build a platform that was artistic, versatile and anonymous (when desired). Our team asked critical questions of what an art/technology/community engagement project could be that truly benefits the underserved and underrepresented. The goal was to create something that was visually and aesthetically appealing with the technical capacity to accommodate multiple levels of interaction. Users access stories through a geolocation-based interface, while live data feeds provide deeper context through information graphics. In the spirit of the Free Speech Movement, our project asks how the resources and intellectual power of our public university can be used to engage and empower Californians often deprived of the fruits of university research. Continue reading

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