The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'outsourcing'
A software developer in the US has taken outsourcing into his own hands, by hiring a company in China to do his job for less than ¹⁄₅ of his salary:
"This organisation had been slowly moving toward a more telecommuting oriented workforce, and they had therefore started to allow their developers to work from home on certain days. In order to accomplish this, they'd set up a fairly standard VPN concentrator approximately two years prior to our receiving their call," he was quoted as saying on an internet security website.
"Authentication was no problem. He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average nine-to-five work day," he added.The unnamed developer is said to have come physically into work but spent the time surfing eBay, Facebook and Reddit and watching cat videos on YouTube for the standard eight hours a day, which somewhat defeats the purpose of his hack. Then again, the report also suggests that he was simultaneously employed at several other companies, and similarly subcontracting his duties there to Shenyang.
The Daily Torygraph's Dr. Tim Stanley has hailed the developer as an exemplar of capitalism at its best:
For not only is Bob a modern hero to the terminally bored office worker, he’s also invented a whole new way of making capitalism work. If big companies can outsource labour to save money, why the heck can’t the little man do exactly the same?His employer, Verizon, didn't agree, and sacked him.
A recent popular self-help book, The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, advocated doing the same sort of thing, converting oneself into middleware binding together disparate subcontractors and charging a premium for doing so, though advised the reader to first arrange to be able to work from home. And there are reports of enterprising hackers having done similar things as early as 2004.
On a similar tangent, Britain's sense of moral indignation has also been outsourced to China, and is being handled by “a permanently outraged man working 96-hour shifts” just outside of Beijing:
The outrage outsourcing was first noticed when a Rod Liddle was accidentally printed in its original Mandarin.
Erratum is a new exhibition in London by the artist Jeremy Hutchison, who contacted factories in China, India, Turkey and Pakistan and commissioned them to make versions of their products with one intentional error rendering them useless:
And here is a piece about it in the Guardian:
Hutchison was inspired by allegations last year about the working conditions in Apple's Foxconn factory, including a story from one worker who said he would deliberately drop a spanner on the floor so that he could have a few seconds of rest while picking it up. "I became fascinated by this idea of an intentional human error to break the tedium of mass-production," says the artist. "I wanted to see what would happen if you commissioned this kind of intentional mistake into the smooth logic of a hyperefficient globalised machine."
The latest use of offshore personal outsourcing: cutting the drudgery out of online dating:
Anyway, last weekend I was talking to an acquaintance about his use of such services. He has his assistant seducing women for him. His assistant, who is female and lives in India, logs onto his account on a popular dating site, browses profiles and (pretending to be him) makes connections with women on the site. She has e-mail conversations and arranges first dates. Then her employer reads the e-mail conversation and goes to the date. (Perhaps he also does a quick vet before arranging a date to be sure the assistant has chosen well, but I did not confirm that.)Currently, this seems anomalous and a bit sleazy, but perhaps there'll come a time when a variant of this (minus the sketchy subterfuge of it) becomes the norm. After all, the pace of life continues to accelerate and people have less unstructured time. (This is so across the spectrum, from high-powered executives to overworked students holding down two jobs to keep their heads above water.) Spare time is a declining luxury these days. Meanwhile, online dating, at least in its early stages is a labour-intensive activity: reading dozens of profiles and crafting charming responses tailored to the individual strangers, who will most probably not reply. This is a tedious and unrewarding activity, and, clearly, not the sort of thing today's time-stressed professional has time to spare on.
Perhaps the offshore-dating-assistant position will evolve into a sort of dating agent: half recruitment consultant, half marketing professional, with a touch of seduction guru thrown in (depending on how much of a bro the client sees themself as). There will be differently priced tiers of service. Those with the means looking for a partner (or a hook-up) will hire them, getting generally the level of service (in finding and wooing suitable partners, and selling them) they paid for. Those who don't will either do the job themselves, cutting into sleeping time or whatever, or go bowling alone.
A lot of stuff is being outsourced to India these days; call centre work, programming jobs, Catholic prayers...
A Californian hospital recently found itself blackmailed by a third-world data-entry worker threatening to post patient records on the internet unless she was paid. The UCSF Medical Center did not know that the clerical work had been exported to Pakistan, as the records went through a chain of three subcontractors (each probably being the lowest bidder, chosen hourly, where a fraction of a cent can mean bankrupcy). Looks like someone along the line needs to tighten up their paramilitary death squads, err, industrial-relations practices. (via /.)
This morning on 3RRR, I heard about an interestingly subversive art installation being launched at the Blackbox gallery. It explores the nature of globalisation and personality, and consists of a love-letter transcription service. Users record a romantic message on a computer, and it is sent to a data-processing consultancy in Bombay, India, where (thanks to the cheap, skilled labour that is so popular with the call-centre and medical-transcript industries in the West) it is hand-written and mailed to your beloved. I believe it is part of the Experimenta "Waste" programme.