Reading Cultures With Silent Workers

I thought I’d pass along a brief juxtaposition of articles today. First is Farhad Manjoo’s critique of your local book stores vs. the power and convenience of Amazon over at Slate. Manjoo apparently isn’t taking into account the used book market or local book shops of that variety. Having lived in college towns as an English major myself, I have to say that this is a pretty glaring oversight. That situation might not apply to everyone, but I still think there’s a lot to be said for the local book shop beyond Manjoo’s limited critique.

As a counter point, I wanted to post this story from The Atlantic by Vanessa Vaselka about labor practices at Amazon and her attempt a few years back to start a union movement. There are a few aspects of Vaselka’s article that I found wanting. In particular the focus is mostly on Vaselka herself rather than a wider labor movement. I realize Vaselka didn’t get far in her recruiting, but I’m curious about the union (ILWU) and wider efforts for unionization. In other words, it’s a good slice of life experience of unionization, but not particularly enlightening to the larger picture I happen to be intrigued by.

More to the point in this post, Vaselka’s article puts one of Manjoo’s claims into a sharper perspective. Amazon is incredibly efficient, but its important to remember that this efficiency comes at a price and ometimes a particularly high one at that.

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