The Internet's Workforce Is Faceless
We've forgotten that huge deals have a human toll: George Packer
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 25, 2014 1:57 PM CST
A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages from Amazon.com in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, June 30, 2011.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(Newser) – Early 20th-century America had its factory workers; later decades had store employees. But today's Internet economy hides the faces of its workers, writes George Packer in the New Yorker. "Amazon’s workforce is made up mainly of computer engineers and warehouse workers, but when you think of Amazon you don’t picture either one," he writes. "What you see, instead, is a website with a button that says 'add to cart.'" As Internet behemoths increasingly dominate the US economy, our lack of awareness of their employees is a matter of concern.

The invisibility of such workers allows us to forget about the potential toll of the companies' expansion and power. Take Facebook's $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp: It "was reported as yet another tale of sudden, outlandish wealth creation, not as a dangerous consolidation of the messaging business in one company’s hands." We'd find such human consequences "easier to remember … if every time you clicked 'buy,' searched for an article, or texted a friend, your screen flashed the face of a worker who once held a job that made way for your seamless online experience." It's time for a conversation, Packer writes: "Where is the great debate over bigness in our time?" Click for his full piece.

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
jgarbuz
Mar 1, 2014 10:49 AM CST
China was the major manufacturing power in the world before 1820, which is why Columbus and most explorers were so desperate to find a sea route to it to get around the Muslim control of the Mediteranean and the land routes to east Asia. So for a brief 2 centuries the West got the upper hand, and America got a century of dominance. But that's nearly over. America will still be a great power for a long time to come, but by the end of this century, assuming the planet has not been destroyed, China and India will resume their briefly interrupted predominant positions as the largest economic powers. Between China and India we have 3 billion people so it is indisputable. That's 40% of the world's population. The US barely has 5%.
People_Suck
Feb 26, 2014 6:41 PM CST
Like the school children on their way to the meat grinder. HOW CAN YOU HAVE ANY PUDDING IF YA DON'T EAT YER MEAT?
democracy1776
Feb 26, 2014 4:50 AM CST
This is not good for America. This is the results you get when you outsource manufacturing goods to China and third world countries . All that is left is service jobs. A service economy will not supply enough jobs to keep America employed. Now the country has to feed, house, and pay for medical care for all the people that do not have a job. . This causes social unrest and bitterly divides the U.S. population. This upsets supply and demand for our work force, this lowers wages ,causing more social unrest. This is a fast track to a civilizations demise. This is where the U.S. is now. We are at a tipping point of no return at the present time. No civilization can survive when 1% have 90% of the money. Now we have to have a strong military presence in the world to maintain world dominance. This leads to a fast track to unrest world wide. America can not support a military that uses 40% of all the tax revenue. Now we are a collision course to being the next third world country. History will repeat itself. . The U.S. will be the next Roman Empire. The U.S. will be nothing put a history lesson, called the rise and the fall of America.