Creative Code Fellowship Week 2: Labor

For my first fabric design, I've chosen to build symbology and pull data related to Bay Area labor and income. I've focused my research on what I call "app-labor" but is more often referred to as the gig-economy. This is an economy based around on-demand hourly labor that is accesses through phone, tablet, or web applications. Most of the articles and debate seems to be around "odd-jobs" companies like Taskrabbit / Gigwalk / Zaarly and driving specific services like Uber / Lyft. I've been researching what people find attractive about these business models as well as what makes them the subject of intense debate. 

The idealist view:

“TaskRabbit aims to help people take back their lives, be their own boss, help people out, make some money and just feel good again.” (from Taskrabbit site)

The cynical view:

This "revolutionary" work built out of Silicon Valley convenience is not really about technological innovation – it's just the next step in a decades-old trend of fragmenting jobs, isolating workers and driving down wages. source 

Progress on my SYMBOLOGY:

I'm working on my symbology for this design. I want to create a symbology for both the Taskrabbit "odd-jobs" model as well as on for the Uber driver on demand model. Below: My progress on the former.

Note: The layout was inspired by this design. Thinking about: Connections and Disconnections, time vs. income, benefits (and lack of)

What about the data?

It could be most interesting to find data on some of the things that are "at risk" with this kind of work: Job Security, Benefits, Healthcare, Cost of Living, Labor Unions, hourly wages.
Right now I'm mainly looking at Bureau of Labor Statistics Data: Income, Occupational Data

Quick viz of mean hourly wages for the 22 occupational categories defined by the BLS (May 2014).

Some of my questions:

  • Is there other more explicitly-connected data I could be looking at?
  • I'm having some technical issues connecting with the api. Could use some technical assistance.
  • Is there a way I can use a service like Taskrabbit to collect data? It that too weird?
  • How do these services affect the current part-time migrant labor community?

Image Tiling Framework:

Based on feedback, I spent some time on Friday working on some basic shape and color parametric manipulation tools in Processing. The goal is to be able to iterate quickly and output high-quality PDFs. See it in action here. Output examples below: