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“That doesn’t look like a valid rider account. Try again.”: Decoding communication from an algorithmic manager in the case of digital platform work in Brussels

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch

Most of us are used to interacting with technologies in our daily life. We all know the agony of trying to fill out an oversimplified questionnaire that only accepts two valid answers: “yes” or “no” because the answers must be quantifiable and must make sense to a machine. Imagine you had the same kind of communication with your manager. How would you adjust to that kind of relationship? The manager cannot see or hear you, but only cares about the data you provide through a machine. Also, you cannot see or hear your manager. She only communicates through short messages, often no more than a sentence at a time, delivered to you through the same machine. Sometimes she might send you an email, but only to communicate major organizational changes or tell you that you will now be transferred to a piecemeal system, being paid 5 euro per order instead of the hourly pay of 9 euro you had received until now. And even in this case, when the email changes the way you are being remunerated, you get the sense that you are not the only one that receives the email. Having an algorithmic manager was the case for the 23 riders of the digital food delivery platform, Deliveroo, that I interviewed in Brussels in the first half of 2018. The Deliveroo app, which is the riders’ main form of communication with the company, mediates between hungry customers, restaurants who want to increase their take-away business, and the very riders I talked to that sought out the flexible work of bicycle delivery.
In this paper, I will outline an empirical example of the communication — the utterances, thoughts and actions — that the app provokes.
Together we will hopefully get to discuss the role of technology in the recent phenomenon of digital platform work and, more importantly, what kind of implications this type of communication has for the way we relate to each other (including non-intentional communicative agents).
Original languageEnglish
Publication year24 Aug 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - 24 Aug 2021
EventMEGA Seminar 2021 : To begin again - Sandbjerg Gods, Sønderborg, Denmark
Duration: 23 Aug 202125 Aug 2021


ConferenceMEGA Seminar 2021
LocationSandbjerg Gods

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