The Grafstein Annual Lecture in Communications was established by Senator Jerry S. Grafstein, Q.C., Class of 1958, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his graduation from the Faculty of Law and the 10th anniversary of the graduation of his son, Laurence Grafstein and daughter-in-law, Rebecca Grafstein (nee Weatherhead), both from the Class of 1988.

The inaugural lecture was delivered in the fall of 1999 by Charles Dalfen of Torys, a former professor at U of T’s Faculty of Law.

The 2014 Grafstein Lecture in Communications

Trebor Scholz

Associate Professor of Culture and Media,
Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts

"The Organization of Work. Next Steps for Crowdsourcing"

Thursday March 6, 2014
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Victoria College, Rm. 101
91 Charles Street West, Toronto

Read the transcript of the lecture on the speaker's website

Over the past decade, advancements in software development, digitization, faster and cheaper bandwidth, processing power, and storage, and the introduction of a wide range of inexpensive, wireless-enabled computing devices, set the global stage for emerging forms of labor that help corporations to drive down labour costs and ward off the falling rate of profits. 

While it does not look or smell like labour, digital work is part of the daily lives of millions of invisible workers in the United States, India, and Russia. 

In the legal gray zone of the Internet, with its stark asymmetry of enforceable rights, platforms like 99Designs, CrowdFlower, or Amazon Mechanical Turk have become templates for Post-Fordist labor that challenge the achievements of decades-long labor struggles including minimum wage, sick leave, and the 8-hour workday. 

How relevant are unions to the millions of crowdsourced workers? Which concrete projects offer new ways of thinking about “digital solidarity” for the globally distributed workforce? 

Trebor Scholz is an artist, writer, and conference organizer and the chair of the conference series The Politics of Digital Culture at The New School.

He is the author of a monograph on the history of the social Web and its Orwellian economies (forthcoming from Polity). He is also the author, with Laura Y. Liu, of From Mobile Playgrounds to Sweatshop City (2011). Mr. Scholz is the editor of Learning Through Digital Media and a volume on digital labor (Routledge, 2012). He co-edited the nine-volume Situated Technologies series and The Art of Free Cooperation (Autonomedia, 2007). Recent book chapters include “Facebook as Playground and Factory,” “Points of Control,” and “Cheaper by the Dozen: An Introduction to Crowdsourcing.” 

Mr. Scholz has spoken at 150 conferences internationally. He also founded the Institute for Distributed Creativity, which is widely known for its online discussions of critical network culture.
 Dr. Scholz holds a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He has chaired seven major conferences and co-chaired the 2011 Digital Media and Learning conference in Los Angeles.

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See The Grafstein Annual Lecture in Communications archives to read more detailed accounts of past lectures, and watch the complete lectures on the web (beginning with 2002).