What is Work? (March 25th) ☆

| May 5, 2010

I am only two posts into my backposting and am already questioning the ways in which a person can quantify work. I know that major corporations bent on efficiency and oversight will ask their employees to check in every 6 minutes with an update of what they’ve just done (a co-worker at EdLab told us so!). For a call-center employee, there are timers and the warning that “this conversation may be recorded for quality control purposes.” A factory worker might be measured by the number of widgets they widgetize; a milker by gallons milked; a waitress by tables served, or tips received.

The more abstract the work becomes, the harder it is to quantify. “Quantity” is at best reductive, at worst severely misleading, eradicating the worth of creativity in the workplace. Maurizio Lazzarato discussion of  immaterial labour is the central argument dealing with this conundrum of quantifying work in a creative, postindustrial economy in which intellectual/creative skills and labor are central to “productivity” that is often immeasurable in outdated industrial methods. (Not completely coincidentally as he’s sitting across from me as I write, Patrick Carey’s site of the same name gives voice to the value and beauty of such labor.).

All this to say that while what is on view in these visualizations of my daily trials may obscure the intellectual work, the creative labor that (hopefully) goes on in my everyday. Is the work in the lines or the bubbles? Or the spaces between them? I don’t have any answer, just the question as I post another view of another day.