One of the great things about being a professor is that my students are constantly introducing me to new trends in technology and work. The latest innovation (well, not so new now–founded in 2008) introduced to me by a student is Taskrabbit–a sort of ‘ebay for jobs’ that links people searching for someone to do a task for them, with ‘taskrabbits’ in their city or neighborhood willing to perform the task. It turns out there are a range of new businesses performing this local ‘local cyber day labor site’ function (I just made up that term–a google search for ‘cyber day labor’ turned up zero results):
This kind of project-based intermediary web-site has been around for a long time for computer programmers and related occupations (e.g. elance.com), but what is different about these new sites is their focus on local connections, the non-digital delivery of services, and the ability to hire someone for the smallest of tasks (buy my dog food is the task highlighted on taskrabbit’s web-site!). Clear social benefits: new markets and employment opportunities. Clear social challenges: falls outside the range of labor legislation, like most freelance work, so no ability to ensure minimum wage or other basic conditions of employment.