Thursday, March 15, 2018

Press Release: Labor Tech Discussion at Virtual Ability

Labor Tech discussion
Hosted by Tom Boellstorff and Winifred Poster
FRIDAY March 16, 8-10am SLT
Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability

Join us on Friday, March 16, 8AM SLT for an informal discussion about labor and technology. Some members of an informal group of researchers studying labor and digital technology (for instance: call centers, “sharing economy” things like Uber and AirBnB, uses of social network sites like Facebook and Instagram for earning money) are going to make brief presentations about their research, and we’ll have a couple of brief presentations about some research about labor and disability in Second Life too. There will be plenty of time for open discussion. Please join us!

Tom Boellstorff is an anthropology professor from the University of California at Irvine. He is the author of the book "Coming of Age in Second Life."

With support from the National Science Foundation, Tom and Donna Davis (University of Oregon) are engaged in an SL research project “Virtual Worlds, Disability, and New Cultures of the Embodied Self.” How is the internet changing how people think of themselves as individuals and interact as members of communities? For this project, they focus on the disability experience in virtual worlds  where disabled persons can appear any way they choose and do things they may not be able to do in the physical world.

Since some early human first picked up a stick to use as a cane, people with disabilities have been at the forefront of technology innovation. What can their creative uses of and adaptions to online social interaction teach us? Tom and Donna explore this question by collaborating with disabled persons as they create and interact socially in virtual worlds, and discover how they use different kinds of devices in their homes to experience these online environments.

This research will have implications for improving health care and social support. But it also will use the insights of disabled persons to better understand now new online technologies influence how we think about our bodies, how we think about social interaction, and how we think about the role of the internet in everyday life.

Winifred Poster is a professor in the International & Area Studies / International Affairs Program at Washington University, St. Louis. She is the author of "Invisible Labor: Hidden work in the contemporary world" and "Borders in Service: Enactments of nationhood in transnational call centres."

Her areas of interest are feminist labor theory, digital globalization, and Indian outsourcing.  For the past two decades, she has been following high-tech firms from the US to India, both in earlier waves of computer manufacturing and software, and more recent waves of back-office work and call centers.  Her focus is on the intersection of post-colonial computing with the political economy of service labor.  She's curious how information communication technologies are changing the meaning of work, dispersing it transnationally, incorporating new types of workers, and reshaping identities.

Presented in voice with text transcription.

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