Our editorial for the second issue of Notes From Below


March 30, 2018

This issue of Notes From Below was curated by Marijam Didžgalvytė and Wendy Liu. Marijam is a writer on video games / technology and politics whose work has been published on GamesIndustry.biz, Kotaku, Novara Media, Waypoint and many others. Wendy is a software developer and startup founder who wrote about her disillusionment with tech in the last issue of Notes From Below.


The aim of the issue was to explore the changes in labour relations with the increasing role of technology in our workplace. Automation, precarity caused by technology, technological objects used as tools for control or resistance—these are all among the themes we hope to address here. What are the challenges and possibilities offered by the technologies in our workplace? Are there ways to game the system? How has the idea of “work” been redefined by technological inventions?

At the same time, there is another side to the story. All this technology is created by workers, albeit workers situated in a very different context from those hit hardest by technological change. These workers are showered with lavish perks and told that if they do their best, they’ll be rewarded with career success—as long as they don’t try to unionise. Some of the pieces in this issue will attempt to inform the people currently working in the technology industry on the historical, social, political, and economic contexts of their industry. By the same token, we wish to lift the veil on the field, often opaque and even baffling to people outside of it. However glamorous the industry may seem, technology workers are still workers at the end of the day, and their labour is ultimately just a means for creating profit.

With this issue, we wish to open up the conversations around workers’ struggle in the technology sector while simultaneously linking that to resistance against the products of the technology industry. In the process, we hope to provide a resource for a new generation of workers’ struggle that places technology at the forefront.

We’re grateful for all of the work put in by contributors for this issue:

We hope that the pieces in this issue provide a glimpse under the hood, with insight into both the work process within the tech industry as well as how technology will impact labour in the future.

The conversation doesn’t stop here, though. Although future issues of Notes From Below won’t necessarily be themed around technology, please do consider submitting pitches related to the topic of workers’ inquiry and class composition today. You should also check out Logic Magazine, an excellent print publication on technology with a very critical perspective. The New Socialist economics section (for which Wendy is an editor) is also keen to publish more pieces on the economic aspects of the tech industry.

Wendy has also compiled a list of resources for those interested in hearing more critical perspectives on the technology industry, including publications, books, podcasts, and specific writers, which will be frequently updated. You can find this list here:

Critical perspectives on technology: resources

We recognise that this issue has not addressed an important aspect of the topic at hand: the heavily exploited workers in factories and mines, primarily in the Global South, who are absolutely crucial to the continued existence of the technology industry. Some incredible work on this theme is done by Jenny Chan, Tim Pringle and Gale Raj-Reichert. From the mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the Foxconn plants in China—we support the workers in this sector and will highlight their struggles in our future issues.

In solidarity,
Wendy & Marijam

Notes From Below hopes to become a publication where workers from any location, profession and background can come to be inspired by the stories and techniques used by other workers and implement that knowledge in their own industrial context. If you’re interested in contributing to future issues, see our contribute page.


authors

Wendy Liu

Wendy Liu is a software developer and (reformed) startup founder who built the website you’re on right now. She studies inequality at LSE and is an economics editor for New Socialist. You can find her on Twitter @dellsystem.

Marijam Didžgalvytė

Marijam is a writer on video games / technology and politics whose work has been published on GamesIndustry.biz, Kotaku, Novara Media, Waypoint and many others.

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