Stories and use: mediation, meaning and digital labour
Thursday June 7
Bankfield House Lecture Theatre,
132 New Walk, Leicester
Questioning Digital Utility: Didi, Ride-hailing Labor, and the Transformation of Urban Transport in China (Yujie Julie Chen, Leicester)
Today, Chinese urban residents get so used to getting a taxi using ride-hailing apps on their mobile phones that it makes the apps indispensable for urban private transport - they becomes a type of digital utility for the urban living. There is an iterative urge in the media and public discussions to regulate monopolistic Internet companies as utility firms so as to safeguard the public interest. However, no study yet questions what digital utility really means. The talk will use Chinese ride-hailing apps as a case study and tell the story of how platforms become a type of digital utility in urban China and the political and social implications for platform workers.
Peat Power: Digital Economy and the Labor of Anticipation in the Northern Netherlands (Vicki Mayer, Tulane)
When Google went public with its intentions to locate the largest European data center Groningen, it needed a story. It found two stories. One was the story of rural unemployment that has dogged the region since the 1930s. The other was the story of innovation and the knowledge economy which emerged as a salve to the urban economy in the 1980s. Leveraging both of these stories in their own branding is crucial to governmental support and the domination of ICT infrastructure. This talk focuses on how work is represented in these stories and the ways the digital economy forges new representations based on residual cultural and class antagonisms.
The event is free to all, no need to book. Refreshments will be provided.