Humans at Work in the Digital Age explores the roots of twenty-first-century cultures of digital textual labor, mapping the diverse physical and cognitive acts involved, and recovering the invisible workers and work that support digital technologies.

Drawing on 14 case studies organized around four sites of work, this book shows how definitions of labor have been influenced by the digital technologies that employees use to produce, interpret, or process text. Incorporating methodology and theory from a range of disciplines and highlighting labor issues related to topics as diverse as census tabulation, market research, electronic games, digital archives, and 3D modeling, contributors uncover the roles played by race, class, gender, sexuality, and national politics in determining how narratives of digital labor are constructed and erased. Because each chapter is centered on the human cost of digital technologies, however, it is individual people immersed in cultures of technology who are the focus of the volume, rather than the technologies themselves.

Humans at Work in the Digital Age shows how humanistic inquiry can be a valuable tool in the emerging conversation surrounding digital textual labor. As such, this book will be essential reading for academics and postgraduate students engaged in the study of digital humanities; human-computer interaction; digital culture and social justice; race, class, gender, and sexuality in digital realms; the economics of the internet; and technology in higher education.

chapter |14 pages


Toward a humanist account of digital labor
ByAndrew Pilsch, Shawna Ross

part I|60 pages


chapter 1|15 pages

Racialized surveillance and the US census

Tabulating labor 1
ByJ. D. Schnepf

chapter 2|23 pages

Digital labor and trans histories

Resisting assigned gender in the early mainframe era 1
ByMar Hicks

chapter 3|20 pages

Big data and universal design in The Home Market

Are there market researchers in Utopia?
ByMegan Faragher

part II|79 pages


chapter 4|20 pages

Working in the shadow of the object

ByRebecca Perry

chapter 5|20 pages

Work, play, and the banality of the digital

Boredom as form
ByPaul Benzon

chapter 6|16 pages

Labor, data, and amateur inventor in the age of the Silicon Valley boy billionaire

Edisonade, Zuckerbergade
ByNicholas M. Kelly

chapter 7|21 pages

Digitizing labor in the Google Books Project

Gloved fingertips and severed hands
ByAndrea Zeffiro

part III|30 pages

Out of the office

chapter 8|15 pages

Reading women’s labor in the cybernetic seventies

Vital work
ByMadeleine Monson-Rosen

chapter 9|13 pages

The economy of online comments

ByJohn R. Gallagher

part IV|82 pages


chapter 10|18 pages

The digital labor of blended learning

The Reading Cities project 1
ByMelissa Dinsman, Carrie Johnston, Elizabeth Rodrigues

chapter 11|18 pages

Using video games to test the boundaries between work, play, and cultural criticism

The labor of critique
ByMatthew Kelly

chapter 13|11 pages

The stakes of digital labor in the twenty-first-century academy

The revolution will not be Turkified
ByRoopika Risam

chapter 14|17 pages

Scaling black feminisms

A critical discussion about the digital labor of representation
ByAlexandria Lockett