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Thursday, May 29, 2014

How Tech Companies Tricked A Generation Into Working For Free

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from

Last month Apple announced it would open beta testing access for its soon-to-be-revealed version of OS X to anyone with a compatible computer. Once a process reserved for a limited number of developers operating under non-disclosure agreements, the ability to have early access to new software from one of the most desirable companies in the world feels like an unexpected gift. The labor necessary to test software as complicated and widely distributed as an operating system is hard to calculate, but, like all forms of software testing, there is a point where the expense of paying workers is no longer economically feasible. But because Apple has cultivated an image of unattainable desirability for its products, this structure of uncompensated labor becomes a happy privilege, an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing evolution of a brand they love as an echo of themselves.
These voluntary forms of unwaged labor have become endemic as work has increasingly shifted toward the production of digital metaphors like apps, operating systems, and analysis. As the economy has continued to create its divine mirage of growth, workers have come to seem like profit deterrents whose need for sleep, food, play, and security drag down the system. Central to this shift has been the mass distribution of computers, the uses of which have become so frictionless and pleasing they encourage the subconscious guilt of the average worker, who begins to suspect that spending her day telecommuting in...
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