Daily Creative · DIGC202 · Digital Media · Music

Working All The Time (The Life of Liquid Labour)

Welcome to the new age, where we are expected to be available 24/7 and the by-product of your labour is not a physical item as such, but rather a something intangible – information.  In the modern life dominated by instant connectivity through the virtual world our society has responded to this instant global access by changing the way we approach the work life.  While manual labour has a clock on, clock off cycle, information has it’s own way of existing: it constantly flows, and doesn’t just get turned off; thus resulting in a world which expects us to be always available, to “be in standing reserve” (Mitew 2014).

Now you may be thinking that my statements above are really quite vague, so let me put this into a few examples for ya’ll.  I personally work about 3 jobs: checkout chick at the Reject Shop, a marketing assistant at a private school, and a Freelance Graphic Designer.  There is a huge difference between these roles.

Being a checkout chick require little to no thought at the end of the day.  I clock in, I serve customers and stock shelves, and I clock out.  If the job isn’t finished, I’m not required to stay and worry about it, because I’m contracted for a certain amount of hours and when that expires I can leave.
As a marketing assistant, I’m often thinking about the concepts I’m working on.  Currently I’m helping create the yearbook, and as such in my free time I’ve gone and liked a bunch of pages on Facebook for design inspiration.  While I still clock in and out at a certain time, the time I spend thinking about the tasks I have to complete extend beyond these boundaries.
Freelancing is something that occupies my time whenever I get the chance.  I’m currently working on an online identity for my church Bible study group, and I don’t have a specific start/finish time for it.  Instead, the time I spend thinking about branding strategies and working on the identity is ever changing – there is no structure.  Instead, I’m continuously thinking about the work I have to complete, whether consciously or in the back of my mind.  It doesn’t just ‘turn off’ at the end of a day.

My job at the Reject Shop best represents the old, industrial approach to work.  A 9 to 5, where the structure is very clear.  The marketing job sees a bleed between personal life and work life, while the freelancing job best represents the idea of liquid labour as it is always there and the boundaries are not.

Sometimes however, the work we do is something we aren’t getting paid for.  Some of the largest companies are ones which utilise their user base to generate the information.  An example of this is Pokemon Go.  The aim of the game is to travel around and collect Pokémon, which needs access to our GPS to determine where we are to sync it with the game world.  That aggregated spatial data is saved by Niantic which can then be sold off to whoever they please.  By playing the game, we agree to give them this data (read more about this here).  This doesn’t just apply to Pokemon Go – Facebook collects our data, as do those companies which have rewards cards, and they all collect it to make money for themselves.

Welcome to the information age, or perhaps it would be better known as the surveillance age.  We give companies our data to collect, and they use it to create a buck for themselves.  After all, information is power, and that’s worth something.


Lyrics to Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 reimagined as Working All The Time (The Life of Liquid Labour)
backing track credit

Tumble outta bed and I open up my iPhone / Notifications from last night get my attention / And I open up the applications // Email from the boss who
wants things done by yesterday / Another asks for a last minute design by 8 / Such is life when it comes to liquid labour //

Workin’ All the time / I’ve got no bars, do you have reception? / Like, share, and subscribe / It’s all labour that you’re giving / We just don’t switch off / Yes we’re always doing something / Always connected to the information economy // 9 to 5, it’s an outdated work concept / The workflow never stops / There’s always another project / Want to get above / all the jobs that are thrown at me / But the more I do the more work seems to find me //

Go for a stroll with Pokemon Go out, / We think it’s leisure, but that really don’t matter / Cause all our data is collected to be sold away // Companies that rule
don’t create anything / It’s user information that makes money in the end / Such is life when it comes to liquid labour //

Workin’ All the time / I’ve got no bars, do you have reception? / Like, share, and subscribe / It’s all labour that you’re giving / We just don’t switch off / Yes we’re always doing something / Always connected to the information economy // Working all the time, / They got you where they want you / Data in real time / Producing for the corporations / It’s a rich man’s game no matter what they call it / And you spend your life puttin’ money in his wallet //

Workin’ All the time / I’ve got no bars, do you have reception? / Like, share, and subscribe / It’s all labour that you’re giving / We just don’t switch off / Yes we’re always doing something / Always connected to the information economy // 9 to 5, it’s an outdated work concept / The workflow never stops / There’s always another project / Want to get above / all the jobs that are thrown at me / But the more I do the more work seems to find me //

11 thoughts on “Working All The Time (The Life of Liquid Labour)

  1. Lesson for the day, when you see a Soundcloud bar, do not assume it’s a podcast. That was great. Honestly that probably has more work put into it that anything I’ve done this semester. What is great about it is that it nails the point of working in this modern age of technology where it has become apart of our life and who we are.

    On top of that you also had a very well written piece that really outlines the dated approach to working 9-5 and how in the modern day, this is simple not the case. The inclusion of Pokemon Go is always fantastic to see.

    Great Job!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha love the song did you write the lyrics? It is always fascinating how much people are willing to give up just to gain access to an app, like how you have mentioned in Pokemon Go everyone (me included) is so willing to reveal their location which over time indicates their habitual movements. Once the information is sold this leaves people open to aggressively targeted advertising that creepily knows you too well. I myself currently working as a marketer don’t mind so much giving up a small part of my privacy as long as it is only used for conveniently linking products and services to my anticipated wants or needs. I was curious since you mentioned you do some marketing work what your stance is on this practice? Is it unethical to spy if your goal is to connect consumers to products? I suppose the ultimate goal though is a making money and that generally leads down the path of evil. I did a study on this a few semesters ago and found that 67% of the people I asked were concerned about FB and privacy invasion but the 75% still said it didn’t deter them from divulging info on it. Like this article outlines… “Giving up some of your privacy for the sake of advertising is simply the price you pay for free service”


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Facebook is interesting: their power that comes from the information they gather exists because they assume the details we post are true and correct. (Let’s face it, Facebook would probably have been a better census information aggregator than what we had). If we were to all turn around and provide false information – names, interests, photos; then the information they have is useless. How can Facebook successfully market to a persona that has been created with false information?

      The marketing work I carry out stems from my background as a graphic designer; as such, I focus a lot on the brand image – how the school looks to those from the outside, from which photos to choose for events, to how the flyers are guillotined. The students attending the school are paying a premium and it needs to reflect in the content we are creating for the establishment. In short, I’m not analysing data to market towards a micro niche, rather I’m ensuring that the brand image remains an accurate reflection of the values the school is perceived to have.

      In answer to your question however, I’m personally torn. I like being able to find new content which relates to what I’m interested in (yay for Filter Bubbles), but only when it works. Facebook is currently spamming me with advertisements for automated sushi/onigiri/rice makers because I watched a video my friend shared. While that video was cool in passing, I don’t need to be constantly bombarded with this product because frankly, I don’t care enough. At the same time I don’t know how comfortable I am with all that data being passed around from corporation to corporation either. The way it stands in society however, is that it all comes down to what we value most: privacy or convenience

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s scary how companies like facebook are selling our data to other companies so that they can generate money. What I would consider as true horror is that we actually let them do it as we had agreed to the terms they gave us. We are also build in a society that lives off facebook. Which makes it harder to get out of this data mining loop. Great examples! It really helped me break down what liquid labour is all about and turning the post into a song made it very enjoyable and made me focus on what you were saying. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Was surprised by the soundcloud hahaha. VERY informative post and it looks like you put in a lot of effort in this post, fantastic job. Anything that mentions pokemon go is a blog i would like to read!


  5. Hey ther! your remediations are a breath of fresh air in a sea of memes, but I don’t mind swimmin’ haha. The life of a freelancer balancing other work leaves you on the clock all the time. Who opened the flood gates? cos I’ve been blasted with this free flow of information. It’s crazy that because we have access to work, we feel obliged to dedicate all our time to it. The daily grind sorta lyk the INFINITE grind, all that is left is dust. Great blog once again thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. HAHAHAHAHAHA I love your little song very clever indeed.

    I think it’s really cool you have those three different perspectives of work life and it’s obviously allowed you to get a good idea of what each work lifestyle can offer you. I sometimes get myself irked about the whole data mining thing but honestly thinking about it gives me a headache and I’m like whatever I’m really not that interesting anyway haha. Awesome lil insight on liquid labour and transitioning work environments 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hey, sweet blog!
    First of all, I was not expecting the SoundCloud to be a song. It’s absolute gold. Such a clever remediation, and it ties your post together very nicely.

    The way you contrasted and compared the 3 jobs you currently have with the lecture material was really well done, providing great examples of the seemingly outdated ‘9 till 5’ approach to the now modern workplace setting. Working at the retail store, Coles, I still am currently in the industrial approach, so it was interesting to read your thoughts on the differences between the 3 roles you outlined, as I have a lack of insight for 2 out of the 3. Using Pokemon Go as an example was also very clever, as it is one many can relate to, due its popularity last year. The hyperlinks you added were also very useful, providing even more information.

    Right at the start of your post, you mentioned the changing approached to work life. If I was to make any suggestion, possibly expanding on this to provide more insight may be of use (even if that is through a hyperlink, as i know 150 words is not a lot to play with). I found this source quite helpful: http://www.scidev.net/global/knowledge-economy/feature/knowledge-economy-ict-developing-nations.html

    ~ Brendon

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Brendan, thanks for the feedback!

    My majors are Music and Graphic design, so I’ve always tried to use these skills when it comes to approaching Digital Media. Glad that the literal song approach was a pleasant surprise.

    Reflecting back on the past year, I’d say my structured ‘work life’ has shifted even more towards a life of liquid labour. Not so much because my jobs have changed (still working retail, am in a different marketing job now, and still do a heap of freelance work), but because I’ve started picking up side projects as well. These have an interesting dynamic in themselves because they are a labour of love, not money, and the time I pour into them is literally any free time I get. I often stay back after my classes at uni to spend time at the UOW Makerspace to get to know the community there to better represent them on social media and engage more people with the space, and that space also gives me place to prototype my board game at the same time. At home, I’m working on events and projects coming up at church, while organising a major project for university which is intense and always has a million more things that need to be done. I don’t know what it’s like to have a ‘day off’ anymore, and I’m ok with that. Liquid Labour is something that has become a part of my routine and who I am.

    Perhaps you can relate better to the form of liquid labour in side projects, rather than my other two ‘traditional’ work roles.


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