Encountering Silent Workers

How do we encounter silent workers? How do we see what is meant to be hidden behind apps and interfaces? In our group work, we went on an unusual search: the search for our personal encounters with silent workers as researchers, academics and scholars. While some of us hired workers in order to find interview partners, others were pushed into using platform labour and tried to turn it into a research inquiry. Some were trying to relate their own isolating experiences of working from home in the pandemic with those of digital homeworkers. Others were reflecting on the very absence of an encounter due to the invisibilization of microwork in final AI products. The resulting text is bringing these different personal encounters into a cacophonic conversation with each other. How do we deal with our own role as users, researchers, workers and activists in relation to silent workers? How did the pandemic transform our possibilities to encounter these workers? How to understand the noisy surroundings, the landscapes and the concrete embeddness of this kind of work trough a screen? With remote work threatening to become the new normal, will we all turn into silent workers? How to create noise and how to make the voices of noisy workers visible?

By: Aude Launay, Shintaro Miyazaki, Catherine Sotirakou and Mira Wallis

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