Digital Sweatshop (noun) – a virtual sweatshop where workers, many in developing countries, work for low wages (compared to those offered in developed countries) doing computer work such as labeling images, customer service or data entry.
A worker in a digital sweatshop can be making a lot more per day than they would in a local office, but the work can dry up in a flash. They are not employees of the off-shore company so they don’t qualify for workers’ rights offered off-shore.
I found this term while researching for a script I’m writing and read an article called “Ethics, Technology and Organizational Innovation” written by S. Bruson and A. Vaccaro in Journal of Business Ethics, Feb. 2016.
The Italian comedy Do You See Me? looks at the difficulties a talented female architect faces when after succeeding around the world, she decides to return to Italy where she’s lucky to get a low paying waitress job. While Serena Bruno has graduated from top schools and won awards for her work, back in Italy the economy’s tight and jobs, particularly for women, are scarce.
Serena Bruno first is attracted to and then when she learns he’s gay, she befriends the owner of the restaurant where she works. He sees her talent and intelligence when no one else does. He encourages her to enter an architecture contest to redesign a public housing space. Though her idea, which was inspired by input from the residents, is fantastic she fears she’ll be passed over for a man so when the committee mistakes her for a secretary to Bruno Serena she plays along. She convinces her former boss, now friend and roommate to pretend to be Bruno Serena. Comedy ensues and while the situation is ridiculous, it’s a thoughtful, fun film that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence.
It’s an enjoyable film that depicts the difficulties woman still face.
Should I give up hoping to get to China by Sunday the 4th?
Rather than sending the paperwork she got back from Immigration to my employer via an overnight express, this woman who’s done the job for years, emailed the teachers for their addresses expecting us to take the paperwork to a local consulate which we’ve never done. (In Hefei, the other site of a program did the same thing and unfortunately, the teacher complied. His paperwork is on its way to Arizona, where there is no consulate. He’ll just have to ship it all to Massachusetts.)
So she wasted Monday causing another precious day to be wasted. I emailed her to find out what day of entry to put on our forms for our paperwork and was told Sept 13th! Luckily, when I asked the woman in China who’s in charge of this, she said if we put Sept. 13th as our date of entry we would be able to enter before then.
I better also say some prayers to be safe.
A week ago Friday we learned that there was a hold up with getting our tickets back to China. The Chinese consulate rejected our applications because some “unspecified” paperwork was missing. I figured things would work out since the Chinese government approved this program and the students need teachers.
We had a week of waiting and sometimes I thought well, maybe, the government doesn’t care that students need and paid extra for international teachers. However, Monday our employer got our visas and by today we’ve got our passports in hand and airline reservations made. We’ll arrive in China on the 4th and start teaching on the 7th.
I’m looking forward to this semester and the warmer weather I’ll find in Jinan.
To My Father’s Business
by Kenneth Koch
Leo bends over his desk
Gazing at a memorandum
While Stuart stands beside him
With a smile, saying,
“Leo, the order for those desks
Came in today
From Youngstown Needle and Thread!”
C. Loth Inc., there you are
Like Balboa the conqueror
Of those who want to buy office furniture
Or bar fixtures
In nineteen forty in Cincinnati, Ohio!
Secretaries pound out
Invoices on antique typewriters—
And fingernail biters.
I am sitting on a desk
Looking at my daddy
Who is proud of but feels unsure about
Some aspects of his little laddie.
I will go on to explore
Deep and/or nonsensical themes
While my father’s on the dark hardwood floor
Hit by a couple of Ohio sunbeams.
Kenny, he says, some day you’ll work in the store.
But I felt “never more” or “never ever”
Harvard was far away
World War Two was distant
Psychoanalysis was extremely expensive
All of these saved me from you.
C. Loth you made my father happy
I saw his face shining
He laughed a lot, working in you
He said to Miss Ritter
“Ritt, this is my boy, Kenny!”
“Hello there Kenny,” she said
My heart in an uproar
I loved you but couldn’t think
Of staying with you
I can see the virtues now
That could come from being in you
A sense of balance
Compromise and acceptance—
Not isolated moments of brilliance
Like a girl without a shoe,
But someone that you
Care for every day—
Need for customers and the economy
Don’t go away.
There were little pamphlets
Distributed in you
About success in business
Each about eight to twelve pages long
One whole series of them
All ended with the words
“P.S. He got the job”
One a story about a boy who said,
“I swept up the street, Sir,
Before you got up.” Or
“There were five hundred extra catalogues
So I took them to people in the city who have a dog”—
P.S. He got the job.
I didn’t get the job
I didn’t think that I could do the job
I thought I might go crazy in the job
Staying in you
You whom I could love
But not be part of
The secretaries clicked
Their Smith Coronas closed at five p.m.
And took the streetcars to Kentucky then
And I left too.
Black Tiger Springs, Jinan, China
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After watching The Man in Gray, I figured I ought to check out Gregory Peck in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. I’d heard of the novel, but thought the story was merely a critique of corporate commuters and life in the suburbs. It’s mentioned in a few textbooks I’ve had to read and it seemed like it was a satire.
Not at all. At least the movie isn’t.
Tom Rath (Peck) has been back from WWII for 10 years. His wife Betsy (Jennifer Jones) wants a bigger home. She’s impatient with Tom exhorting him to strive more. Though he’s satisfied at his non-profit job, he sees that the bills will be easier to pay if he makes more. A fellow commuter lines him up with an interview at an ad agency. Since he resembles the CEO’s son, who died in WWII, he gets the job.
Memories of the war, of killing brutally, of a woman he loved there, haunt Tom. His children are zombies glued to the TV and his wife while not a nag, does complain a lot. All through this Tom navigates the ad business, learning how to read people and tell them what they want to hear. Yet he’s got too much natural integrity to keep up the game. Problems with his new house, the after effects of the war and his job, grow. Yet Tom meets them with heroism.
Peck’s performance is good. Tom Rath isn’t Atticus Finch, but he is a straight-shooter by the end. Thought one daughter had a funny preoccupation with death, the two other children were more or less extras. Childhood in this suburb was pure television addiction and chicken pox.
The film has an interesting realism that made me wonder how autobiographical the novel might be.