Gig. Gig. Or Gig?

Regarding the role of Crowdsourcing in The Gig Economy. It can be worthy. As long as one gets the gig because of the gig without being gigged.

The Gig Economy. First:

Definition courtesy of Sarah Kessler, from her May 2014, FastCompany article Pixel & Dimed, “The gig economy (a phrase which encompasses both the related collaborative economy and sharing economy) represents a theory of the future of work that’s a viable alternative to laboring for corporate America. Instead of selling your soul to the Man, it goes, you are empowered to work for yourself on a project-by-project basis.”

Courtesy of the Word-Detective, “Since playing at parties and dances is every musician’s meal ticket early in their career, it’s easy to see how “gig” became generalized to mean any paying job.” So, as with a band that gets gigs to perform music for a paying crowd, just about anybody can now accept a gig (task, challenge, assignment) on a project-by-project basis … from just about any one, any business, any entity. All it takes is a little surplus talent, skill, time, transportation, empty space, unused toys, durable tools, etc. — not to mention willingness. Cool.

Ms. Kessler provides a tidy intro list to the kinds of platforms that serve up these gigs (some of which she participated in to give her article a firsthand pov): Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Uber, Lyft, Dogvacay, Postmates, Fiverr, Getaround, RelayRides, ParkatmyHouse, Snapgoods, RentStuff, Zirtual, SkillShare, KitchenSurfing, WunWun, ChaCha, Exec, FancyHands). That definition of “gig” is easy to get — as a reader and, increasingly — as a doer.

The Gig Economy. Second:

Definition: One gigabit is a billion bits of information or storage. And the term is now the label for the kind of bandwidth we all lust after. At companies. In our homes. On our phones. So gig is shorthand for a very earnest gigabit-driven gig economy. The bigger the pipeline, the easier it is for gigs to be distributed, performed, delivered … and compensated.

FastCompany, 09/2014, reports that as many as 53 million freelancers are out there taking on gigs. This still dreamed-about-bandwidth is becoming a reality (Kansas City, Austin, Provo, with more to come). This bandwidth will facilitate more and more information transfer, data shuttling, content sharing and work/task distribution. This gig economy is on its way and here to stay.

The Gig Economy. Third:

Definition: gig 2 (gĭg)
n.
1. An arrangement of barbless hooks that is dragged through a school of fish to hook them in their bodies.
2. A pronged spear for fishing or catching frogs.

Not a pleasant thought. In this case, used as a verb rather than a noun. This definition of gig is one few would want associated with the gig economy. But unless a willingness is shown to compensate crowdsourced gig workers equitably, there is a risk that gig workers will indeed become gigged workers.

Freelancers can work when and where they want. Digial connectivity makes it possible. They seek the flexibility a free-agent “workstyle” can provide. But, this question will always be asked: Will they earn fair compensation from the gig? Or will they be hooked; grabbed and dragged to the bank of exploitation by the gig?

Crowdsourcing models offer freelancers and/or free agents opportunities. Signs point to a proliferation of crowdsourcing in the gig economy. Can these crowdsourcing platforms be designed in ways that avoid winner-takes-all contests? Ways that reflect market value? Ways that are built on competition yet still respect compensation?

Yes, each worker who accepts a paying gig sets “market value.” But that decision triggers a set of questions about motivation and circumstance. Accepting the payment or conditions of payment does not establish fairness. That which is fair is determined at a higher level in the market than any given instance. Let’s borrow from Henry Ford, who a century ago, realized that he needed to pay a fair wage in order to have customers for the very car his workers were assembling. The topic of market value clearly needs its own medium “story.”

Each party in the crowdsourcing model must be mindful of the distribution not only of the task and the product, but also the dollars. Ethical crowdsourcing may indeed flourish in a gig economy. If its practitioners endeavor to play fair and pay fair — and support the goal of Shared Value.

Let’s Make a Declaration

Let every party to crowdsourcing platforms in the gig economy be willing to provide gigs, facilitated by the gigabit pipeline without gigging the fine folks who deliver the goods.

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