How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work

Alex Rosenblat

University of California Press, October 2018

Silicon Valley technology is transforming the way we work, and Uber is leading the charge. An American startup that promised to deliver entrepreneurship for the masses through its technology, Uber instead built a new template for employment using algorithms and internet platforms. Upending our understanding of work in the digital age, Uberland paints a future where any of us might be managed by a faceless boss.

The neutral language of technology masks the powerful influence algorithms have across the New Economy. Uberland chronicles the stories of drivers in more than twenty-five cities in the United States and Canada over four years, shedding light on their working conditions and providing a window into how they feel behind the wheel. Uberland also explores the company’s outsized influence around the world: the billion-dollar company is now influencing everything from debates about sexual harassment and transportation regulations to racial equality campaigns and labor rights initiatives.

Based on award-winning technology ethnographer Alex Rosenblat’s firsthand experience of riding over 5,000 miles with Uber drivers, daily visits to online forums, and face-to-face discussions with senior Uber employees, Uberland goes beyond the headlines to reveal the complicated politics of popular technologies that are manipulating both workers and consumers.

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About the Author

Alex Rosenblat is a technology ethnographer. She works as a researcher and interdisciplinary scholar at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York City. Her most recent and prize-winning work is available in the International Journal of Communications, the Columbia Law Review, the Policy & Internet Journal, and Surveillance & Society. Her research is also featured in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, MIT Technology ReviewVice, Quartz, WIRED, Time, Technology Review-Heise, New Scientist, the Guardian, and CTV. She is an occasional contributor to the Harvard Business ReviewFast Company, Motherboard, Slate, the Atlantic, and Pacific Standard.