A fair-minded analysis of the ever morphing worldwide labor force—an early entry in burgeoning popular literature on the gig...

GIGGED

THE END OF THE JOB AND THE FUTURE OF WORK

An examination of how job environment models and opportunities have evolved, mainly through the success of Uber and other gig-economy stalwarts.

Kessler, a reporter for Quartz who previously worked for Fast Company and Mashable, describes Uber’s rise to prominence in 2013 after a series of failed fledgling attempts to garner venture capitalist funding and how the unique business model changed the way people taxi. But Uber is just one example within an ever expanding network of job marketplaces eschewing the classic template of an office day job with steady hours and benefits. Though both Snapchat and Instagram emerged from this revolutionary period, Kessler focuses on on-demand business models like Uber’s, which became widely scrutinized when it classified its drivers (mostly men) as independent contractors, which “relieved the company from government-mandated employer responsibilities in most countries.” The author taps the experiences of a number of Uber drivers and satisfied members of this alternative workforce and provides a comprehensive cross section of workers and developers who have abandoned their unrealistic daily working structure to benefit from the gig economy’s flexible business models. She also charts the unique strategies of like-minded on-demand workforce marketplaces such as Mechanical Turk, Managed by Q, and Gigster, demonstrating how their successes were earned and are consistently maintained. By contrast, Kessler spotlights the negative aspects of the gig economy: pay discrepancies (e.g., Uber’s fluctuating pricing model which affected drivers’ take-home potential), personal injury risk and exposure, and lack of benefits. The author then probes how the gig economy became a hot-button discussion among politicians and world economists and policymakers. In conclusion, the author suggests that the advent of “Uberisation” has encountered a wide-ranging groundswell and its share of potholes and obstacles, and though it remains a potentially lucrative employment alternative for workers and labor innovators alike, there are still great opportunities for much-needed refinement.

A fair-minded analysis of the ever morphing worldwide labor force—an early entry in burgeoning popular literature on the gig economy.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09789-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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