1st Edition

Humans at Work in the Digital Age Forms of Digital Textual Labor

Edited By Shawna Ross, Andrew Pilsch Copyright 2020
    288 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Humans at Work in the Digital Age explores the roots of twenty-first-century cultures of digital textual labor, mapping the diverse physical and cognitive acts involved, and recovering the invisible workers and work that support digital technologies.

    Drawing on 14 case studies organized around four sites of work, this book shows how definitions of labor have been influenced by the digital technologies that employees use to produce, interpret, or process text. Incorporating methodology and theory from a range of disciplines and highlighting labor issues related to topics as diverse as census tabulation, market research, electronic games, digital archives, and 3D modeling, contributors uncover the roles played by race, class, gender, sexuality, and national politics in determining how narratives of digital labor are constructed and erased. Because each chapter is centered on the human cost of digital technologies, however, it is individual people immersed in cultures of technology who are the focus of the volume, rather than the technologies themselves.

    Humans at Work in the Digital Age shows how humanistic inquiry can be a valuable tool in the emerging conversation surrounding digital textual labor. As such, this book will be essential reading for academics and postgraduate students engaged in the study of digital humanities; human-computer interaction; digital culture and social justice; race, class, gender, and sexuality in digital realms; the economics of the internet; and technology in higher education.

    List of Tables and Figures


    List of Contributors



    Andrew Pilsch and Shawna Ross


    Part One: Government

    1. Racialized Surveillance and the US Census: Tabulating Labor

    J. D. Schnepf


    2. Digital Labor and Trans Histories: Resisting Assigned Gender in the Early Mainframe Era

    Mar Hicks

    3. Big Data and Universal Design in The Home Market: Are There Market Researchers in Utopia?

    Megan Faragher

    Part Two: Industry

    4. Working in the Shadow of the Object

    Rebecca Perry

    5.Work, Play, and the Banality of the Digital: Boredom as Form

    Paul Benzon

    6.Labor, Data, and Amateur Inventor in the Age of the Silicon Valley Boy Billionaire: Edisonade, Zuckerbergade

    Nicholas M. Kelly

    7. Digitizing Labor in the Google Books Project: Gloved Fingertips and Severed Hands:

    Andrea Zeffiro

    Part Three: Out of the Office

    8. Reading Women’s Labor in the Cybernetic Seventies: Vital Work

    Madeleine Monson-Rosen

    9. The Economy of Online Comments

    John R. Gallagher

    Part Four: University

    10. The Digital Labor of Blended Learning: The Reading Cities Project

    Melissa Dinsman, Carrie Johnston, and Elizabeth Rodrigues

    11. Using Video Games to the Test the Boundaries Between Work, Play, and Cultural Criticism: The Labor of Critique

    Matthew Kelly

    12. (Re)canonizing World Literature with Digital Archives and Online Magazines from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China

    Jessica Siu-yin Yeung

    13. The Stakes of Digital Labor in the 21st Century Academy: The Revolution Will Not Be Turkified

    Roopika Risam

    14. Scaling Black Feminisms: A Critical Discussion about the Digital Labor of Representation

    Alexandria Lockett




    Shawna Ross is an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University, where she researches and teaches on British modernism, Victorian literature, and the digital humanities. Her monograph Charlotte Brontë at the Anthropocene is under contract at SUNY Press, while her co-written collection Reading Modernism with Machines was released in 2016 and her co-written book Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom was released in 2017. Her other works may be found in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Victorians, the Journal of Interactive Pedagogy, the Journal of Modern Literature, the Henry James Review, and Modernism/modernity PrintPlus, among other venues.

    Andrew Pilsch is an Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University, where he teaches and researches rhetoric and the digital humanities. His first book, Transhumanism: Evolutionary Futurism and the Human Technologies of Utopia, was released by University of Minnesota Press in 2017, when it was awarded the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize. His research has been published in Amodern, Philosophy & Rhetoric, and Science Fiction Studies.