Barbara Fister’s Take on the Amazon Workplace Exposé

What strikes me most from the perspective of an academic librarian is that this article is basically the story of contemporary tech capitalism, which has had enormous influence on library culture and higher ed. Short version: we hire the best, you’ll love your work so much that your life will be devoted to being the best you can be, and we’ll use data to make sure our customers get the best experience possible at scale. Moar productivity! Or, if you must be cynical, we’ll screen out people who aren’t like us, we’ll only retain workers who don’t have elderly parents, children, ailments, or anything else in their lives that will interfere with a 24/7 devotion to labor, and we will put them under continual surveillance to keep them onto  their toes. But it will be so much fun working with cool, smart people! And you’ll be part of the future, yay! We love our customers so much that we will spy on them. It’s for their sake that we’ll spy on you, too, and demand detailed metrics to prove you’re doing your job. We don’t have to have profits now – this is an investment in a glorious future. Resistance is not only futile, it’s embarrassing. Dude, you’re showing your age.

via My Take on the Amazon Workplace Exposé | Library Babel Fish | InsideHigherEd.

I haven’t read the articles Barbara Fister refers to yet, but I’ve heard similar things about the tech industry. Her article is well worth reading.

We librarians definitely have a lot to learn from other fields. I agree with Barbara Fister that we should not give up our library values while seeing what lessons are worth implementing. Some things are worth fighting against.

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