Front Cover Photo: Shutterstock
This material comes from CBC Radio’s Ideas program and the documentaries were produced by CBC Radio. Click here to access the original article produced by Jill Eisen and Greg Kelly, first broadcast September 2017.
The biggest innovation in the world of work in the last decade has been the rise of online platforms which connect workers and customers. Uber andAirbnb are the most well known, but there are dozens of others. Upwork connects businesses with independent professional, TaskRabbit, handy and jiffy are platforms for various home services, Amazon Mechanical Turk is on-line marketplace for small computer tasks called micro-tasks, and the list goes on.
You can find everything from graphic designers to people who will walk your dog or assemble your Ikea furniture. These platforms have been well received by customers, but for workers, they often have a dark side. And they present a major challenge for governments who are grappling with how to regulate them. Contributor Jill Eisen looks at the digital revolution happening in our working lives. ** This episode is part 2 of a 3-part series, and originally aired September 20, 2017. Part 3 airs Tuesday, February 13.
Platforms like Uber, TaskRabbit and Upwork hold out the promise of freedom, flexibility, the chance to earn a little extra income and be your own boss. For some, that promise does get fulfilled, for but many others, it doesn’t. Here’s a quote from the former CEO of CrowdFlower, a platform for online work based in San Francisco. “Before the internet, it would be really difficult to find someone, sit them down for 10 minutes, get them to work for you and then fire them after 10 minutes, but with technology, you can actually find them, pay them that tiny amount and then get rid of them as quickly as possible.” Quoted in The Nation, Feb. 5, 2014. We seem to be returning to the ruthless and unregulated days of early capitalism in the 19th century.