In 2013 Trebor Scholz edited a book titled Digital Labor: The Internet as Playground and Factory (Routledge). The book collected contributions by some of the most innovative and eclectic scholars of digital work and highlighted the most important trends and implications of digital labor in the current times. The main theme was the transformation of labor mediated by the digital technologies, at a time when technology hybridises every aspect of existence. The debate highlighted some unresolved issues in the debate concerning the digital economy, first and foremost the role of rentiers and unpaid labor within the digital technologies, as an expression of the ability to extract information from millions of consumers and to use it as a condition for defending strategic positions in the market. This paper focuses precisely on the recent transformations and interpretations of the digital technologies, and analyses the tendency to interpret the net as a dystopian device, underlining the ambivalent role played by automation and technology in the social imaginary.
Keywords: Digital Economy, Digital Labor, Free Labor, Gig Economy, Fourth Industrial Revolution, Automation, Robotization, Platform Capitalism
Jel Code: E24, E26, O33