The focus of this week has been on the connection between people and technology in the context of work. For good or for ill technology, particularly information technologies, change the ways in which people work. But technology, even information technology, also takes work to build and maintain. Often this work is invisible to the end users, and involves traditionally low-tech jobs in warehouses, mines, factories, and even farms. Our goal this week is to uncover and assess the many forms of work involved in making the digital economy possible, and to think about the social, political, and moral implications of that work.

Your assignment is to select on of your favorite digital or virtual technologies — it could be a tangible thing, like your Galaxy 7 Edge, or a software-based system or service, such as World of Warcraft — and do a brief environmental and labor audit of that technology.

1) outline a list of all the things and people that are required to make or provide that technology. For example, your Galaxy 7 involves the gathering of materials, their manufacture into a final product, shipping, distribution, and perhaps maintenance. It also requires lots of infrastructure (electricity, cell towers, etc.). You feel free to speculate. Be as broad as possible.

2) using the list above, think about A) who does this work, and B) where this work might be done. You should do a little research online, but in many cases you can only answer this with general categories. For example, although you might find out that your iPhone was assembled by factory works at the Foxconn facility in Shenzen, China, for other technologies you might only not that it assembled by “factory workers”. It can be difficult to figure who does what work — that is indeed one of the points of this week’s assignment — but you should spend some time trying.

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