A compilation of opinions in “The Nation” gives some short and sweet expert commentary on what is ailing the crowdsourcing industry.
Trebor Scholz (he of “The Digital Sweatshop) calls for platform cooperativism (Trebor is great with a catchphrase).
Platform cooperativism is about experimentation with good digital work and new forms of solidarity. It is about innovative unions, worker associations, and cooperatives building their own labor platforms and design interventions, rooted not in greed but the needs of workers. It is about labor history’s cardinal lesson, which is that in confrontation with owners, individual solutions don’t work. The future of labor need not be defined solely by venture-capital funded, Silicon Valley ringleaders but by worker cooperatives and inventive unions.
Janelle Orsi echoes these sentiments, expressing concerns in the current compensation structure:
Soon, 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will consist of freelancers, many of whom will cobble together income from multiple sources. We can’t allow companies like Airbnb, Uber, and TaskRabbit to take 5 percent to 20 percent of freelancer earnings. If those companies remain the gatekeepers of critical work opportunities, they’ll continually adjust search algorithms, fee structures, and terms of service to extract more out of workers. In “The Sharing Economy Just Got Real,” I outlined how companies like Airbnb could become or be replaced by cooperatives. Shared ownership and control are critical if we are to get real about the “sharing” part of the so-called “sharing economy.”