[iDC] Introduction (belated)

Lilly Irani lilly.irani at gmail.com
Wed Nov 12 06:54:42 UTC 2014

Hello all -

I'm an Assistant Professor at UCSD in Communication and Science Studies
and, with Six Silberman, one of the designers of Turkopticon. Turkopticon
is a tool Six and I maintain along with Turk workers that lets Turkers
share reviews of employers and engage in mutual aid. We presented it at the
2009 conference so it is especially exciting for me to be continuing the
conversations about futures of digital labor back here in NYC in 2014. I'm
also on the Advisory Board for Digital Labor and have been helping with
small bits of the organizing.

My interests, broadly, are the cultural politics of high tech work. Zooming
in a bit, I've been focusing on whose work is made visible and valued in
"innovation" economies -- whose work counts as innovative, whose work gets
patents / credits / investments, and whose work is most profitable have
hidden away and why. I try to work at multiple scales -- face to face
interactions, interfaces and protocols, political economies, and histories
of class, gender, race, and colonialism. I've been working through these
questions over the last five years as an ethnographer of transnational
design work in India, and by working with and thinking hard about Amazon
Mechanical Turk.

At #DL14 the conference:
 - I'll be moderating an international panel of Amazon Mechanical Turk
workers Kristy Milland, Manish Bhatia, and Harris Paltrowitz. They'll be
speaking about whatever they want, but I think it will at least involve
talking about experiences of Turk work, histories of activism within the
community, and futures they'd like to see.
 - I'm giving a talk about the construction of risk and speculative value
in the software industry and how that might suggest modes of activist
intervention and counter-speculation
 - I'm helping Mushon Zer Aviv (with Laura Forlano and Niloufar Salehi)
draw the Digital Labor conversations into acts of making and designing at a
2.5 hour workshop on Sunday "Design the Future of the Networked Workplace."
All are invited, and Kristy, Manish, and Harris will be there too:

A topic that I hope we keep in mind throughout the conference, but hasn't
manifested too much in the schedule so far, is the global system in which
digital labor struggles for justice are embedded. The value of labor is
constructed in a world system, so how should our conferences, research, and
activism look in recognition of that? I know at least  Winnie Poster and
Mary Gray have some things to say about that. I'm looking forward to the


Lilly Irani
University of California, San Diego
Department of Communication
*https://quote.ucsd.edu/lirani/ <https://quote.ucsd.edu/lirani/>*
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