Welcome to DH150, Digital Labor, a spring 2023 class at UCLA.

Today, the world of work looks dramatically different than it did a generation ago. Where our parents or grandparents might have anticipated a steady paycheck and a stable job, we see a job market that abounds in gig work, influence marketing, hustling, and freelancing.

As we speak, artists wonder if AI has eliminated their livelihood—as do marketers, video producers, and even software developers. Meanwhile, Uber drivers, Mechanical Turkers, baristas, and healthcare workers do daily combat with the mysterious algorithms that apportion and pay for their labor.

Where do these changes come from? Why do they happen in the way they do? How do they interact with existing axes of power, like gender and race? Who benefits from these changes to the labor market? And what can we as workers do to gain some control over our livelihoods?

We’ll explore these questions through articles, documentaries, podcasts, and datasets. We’ll also talk about storytelling, especially the role it plays in mediating the truth of our economic conditions. Finally, we’ll experiment with digital media to create our own digital videos that tell the stories of workers themselves.