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July 14, 2014


An Alien Visitor

Back in the real world for a minuite,

Most of the goods we consume are produced by people (not robots) who are most certainly clock timers, not that they have the choice! I am sure they will be delighted to learn that we are kicking our heels back, consuming the same amount of shit while they clock time to keep us in the luxury we have become accustomed to.


On the face of it Industrial capitalism would certainly prefer paying employeys for piece work more than they would paying for clock time. In the context of your post the prevalnce of clock time is is a mystery.

Stephen Judd

Dinero: "clock" time originated with factories and production lines and the need to maximise use of the capital intensive plant by organising workers in shifts. See also railways and commuting and scheduling... lots of factors promoted this way of managing people throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There is a lot of work in the modern world that needn't be scheduled this way, especially so-called "knowledge work."


Even in the pre-industrial "event time", they still had to hustle to get everything done in time for the harvests and so forth.

I'm not sold on this, yet. If anything, I think "clock time" will become more common, because I believe the "grunt work" job of the 21st century is going to be some kind of monitoring technician/"robot shepherd" who sits around constantly monitoring stuff for break-downs and checking things for liability purposes. That's the type of work where you're paying for coverage during a certain period of time, not for any particular number of tasks to be done.

Dave Timoney

The irony of Larry Page opining on reduced working hours is that Google are famous for doing everything to keep their employees working, from desk-side massages to free food and onsite laundries. Their approach is more akin to a cult (satirised by Dave Eggers' The Circle), which harks back to the monastic order origins of factory discipline.

Factory time is the product of technology, in the form of concentrations of capital such as power looms (more profitable than piece-work, i.e. "putting out"), and the discplinary need to prevent "soldiering" through regulation (i.e. controlling work speed) and surveillance. This provided the template for all subsequent work organisation, from banks of desks and open-plan offices through realtime monitoring and hidden cameras.

The Googleplex environment is less about capitalists maximising labour and more about the way that work is becoming a positional good as employment bifurcates into a high-status clerisy for whom the boundary between work and non-work increasingly evaporates, and a low-status proletariat whose labour time is increasingly fragmented and commoditised.

S. Stachura

Beware. Task time may regularly end around 10 P.M. It would not be a worker to decide, how many tasks he must perform.

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