Techdirt Podcast Episode 27: The Rise Of The On-Demand Economy

from the beyond-uber dept

There are a lot of startups out there trying to become the “Uber of…” something, from valet parking to food delivery to dog-walking. But as much as this might look like mere bandwagon-hopping, it actually represents a fascinating and potentially important trend: the emergence of a new, highly efficient and flexible economy based around individuals offering on-demand services.

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Companies: luxe, uber, wag

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Comments on “Techdirt Podcast Episode 27: The Rise Of The On-Demand Economy”

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19 Comments
Arthur Ritticsays:

"On-demand", eh? From a web-site that takes up to a week to RE-write?

I like the way Techdirt gives me time to read topics on every other site so that all I have to do here is look for typos and play “spot-the-bias”.

The Pony Express speed, small-town uniformity of allowed opinion, and cracker-barrel opining, “them scalawags in Warshton Dee Cee be at it agin”, take us back to happier times. Never change, Techdirt!

Jimsays:

Re: Re: "On-demand", eh? From a web-site that takes up to a week to RE-write?

I agree, this blog is more of a “Historical Document”, than a “News Blog”. Not to say that it doesn’t have its uses, and the comments are almost always more insightful than the posts, but the libertarian economics of the blog authors make for good comedy. I’m glad that even mainstream news sources, long behind other blogs, are doing a better job of reporting the “crapification” of our economy via these low-paying Uber McJobs, than TD could ever approach on its best day.

Ann D. Further-Mooresays:

Capitalist paradise, hell for workers: the "on-demand" economy.

CWF, RTB* now means Capitalists With Fortunes; Race To Bottom.

Uber and its “independent” employees who must make capital investments, Amazon’s “Mechanical Slave-Driver”, Wal-Mart and others forcing people to be on call for perhaps two hours of work, are all simply increasing excesses for the already obscenely rich by lowering living standards for everyone else.

Didn’t use to be that way. Reagan promised tax cuts would be a “rising tide that lifted all boats”, but was a neo-con lie. Instead the rich got super-yachts while millions of Americans who work full-time can’t get out of poverty, let alone afford to invest in a house.

If the privileged writer of this article had to ever actually compete in capitalism, he’d think it was slavery. Instead, he’s been able to coast along on what workers long ago were able to wrest from the greedy capitalists. Now again working people must wait for capitalist “demands” just like feudal serfs.


* Some new here may not recognize Masnick’s acronym from long ago. Don’t bother finding. I use the letters here just for fun.

Ann D. Further-Mooresays:

Capitalist paradise, hell for workers: the "on-demand" economy.

CWF, RTB* now means Capitalists With Fortunes; Race To Bottom.

Uber and its “independent” employees who must make capital investments, Amazon’s “Mechanical Slave-Driver”, Wal-Mart and others forcing people to be on call for perhaps two hours of work, are all simply increasing excesses for the already obscenely rich by lowering living standards for everyone else.

Didn’t use to be that way. Reagan promised tax cuts would be a “rising tide that lifted all boats”, but was a neo-con lie. Instead the rich got super-yachts while millions of Americans who work full-time can’t get out of poverty, let alone afford to invest in a house.

If the privileged writer of this article had to ever actually compete in capitalism, he’d think it was slavery. Instead, he’s been able to coast along on what workers long ago were able to wrest from the greedy capitalists. Now again working people must wait for capitalist “demands” just like feudal serfs.


* Some new here may not recognize Masnick’s acronym from long ago. Don’t bother finding. I use the letters here just for fun.

Anonymoussays:

"On demand"

Have you ever called a plumber or air conditioner repairperson and needed same day service? That’s an example of “on demand” service, and it’s been around a long time. The key thing is that the person who responds is (most often) an employee of the business you called.

Uber, Lyft, and like business models are based on using contractors and volunteers, but there are concerns regarding liability as well as employment and tax issues. At the very least they’re causing discussions about such issues, and if said discussions result in stronger labor laws society will be better off in the long run.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: "On demand"

With a plumber/repairperson you pay a high premium for same day/urgent service.
Services like Uber are ultimately a way of having a lower strata of society at the constant beck and call of a higher strata of society whilst at the same time stripping away any employment rights of the lower class.
Tech dirt can’t seem to see this as they can’t see past the fact that it’s done on the ‘internet’ and it’s ‘disruptive’. That years of fine tuning the regulation of the transport industry -because public safety – means nothing if it stands in the way of disruption from silicon valley.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: "On demand"

I’ll ignore the silly insults and just get to this point:

That years of fine tuning the regulation of the transport industry -because public safety – means nothing if it stands in the way of disruption from silicon valley.

That’s ridiculous and not our point at all. Rather, the point — as I’ve explained many times before — is that those “finely tuned” regulations are often not finely tuned at all, but rather used to limit supply in order to jack up prices way beyond reasonable.

And, more importantly, the entire point of most of those regulations was because of information asymmetry. So, yes, you had to be concerned for public safety, but that’s mainly an issue when you have a one-off interaction — i.e., when you’ll never deal with the driver again. But the thing that’s really interesting about these new services is that they do away with that information asymmetry by allowing passengers to rate drivers, thereby leading to a safer/better overall experience without the need for the regulatory burden on top.

Every Uber experience I’ve had has been world’s better than every taxi experience. And often it has been less expensive.

So the argument that it’s “having the lower strata of society” serving the “higher strata” of society is also a load of hogwash. Increasing the supply has made things much cheaper so that many more people are able to use these kinds of transportation services as well… and it’s enabled more people to work.

Your talking points are not just stale, but they’re wrong.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "On demand"

“and it’s enabled more people to work”
Is, for example, $10 an hour running around wrapping parcels really work? That’s not even pocket money.

“allowing passengers to rate drivers”
This sounds more like personal safety , from the driver – which is important. I was meaning the more general safety that comes from having properly licensed drivers , in properly certified vehicles.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: "On demand"

Is, for example, $10 an hour running around wrapping parcels really work? That’s not even pocket money.

Where did you get that number? Anyone can throw around made up numbers. And $10/hour is more than $0, no?

This sounds more like personal safety , from the driver – which is important. I was meaning the more general safety that comes from having properly licensed drivers , in properly certified vehicles.

Do you have any evidence to support the implicit claim you’re making that Uber rides are less safe? Or are you just making that up too?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "On demand"

I’m not exactly making up the figure of $10, it’s from your podcast.

In real human terms, i.e, feeding and clothing yourself; the question should not be “Is it more than 0?” but rather “Will it put cheese in my fridge?”
People don’t take low paying jobs with no workers rights just for shits and giggles, they do it because they have a need to put food in their belly and a roof over their heads.
For you it’s a novelty to use your phone to get your car parked, for the poor guy (actually wouldn’t there need to be two, or does he walk to your car?) who has to settle for whatever fraction of the $15 it costs it’s a shitty wage.

People died to get workers the projections they have and it fucks me off to see outfits like Uber try to erode these rights to make a buck. It fucks me off listening to people like you champion this shit because it’s “on a computer”.
It’s OK for you to sit in one state and watch what happens in another, I don’t have that luxury – where I live Uber is working on our central government to get laws changed.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "On demand"

I’m not exactly making up the figure of $10, it’s from your podcast.

So is your argument that everyone should be ordered to be given more than $10 per hour?

In real human terms, i.e, feeding and clothing yourself; the question should not be “Is it more than 0?” but rather “Will it put cheese in my fridge?”

Are you arguing for basic income? We had a whole podcast on that as well. Or are you arguing for something different?

For you it’s a novelty to use your phone to get your car parked, for the poor guy (actually wouldn’t there need to be two, or does he walk to your car?) who has to settle for whatever fraction of the $15 it costs it’s a shitty wage.

If it’s a shitty wage, then there are alternatives in the job market for him. I spoke to both of the drivers that I used, and they actually seemed to like it — noting that for both of them it was a flexible way for them to make a little extra cash (one was a semi-pro athlete and the other was an actor). And, no, it’s not two. For Luxe, at least, they all use boost board scooters to get to and from pickups.

People died to get workers the projections they have and it fucks me off to see outfits like Uber try to erode these rights to make a buck. It fucks me off listening to people like you champion this shit because it’s “on a computer”.

Really? Look, I know the history of labor fights. I have a degree in labor relations. I spent years studying this shit. Don’t tell me that I don’t understand the history of this stuff, because I can almost guarantee I know it better than you do.

And I think you’re totally wrong. Uber doesn’t “erode” these rights in any way. You’re being totally misleading if you believe that.

And I don’t find it interesting because “it’s on a computer” but because it’s happening and all your whining doesn’t change that. And, from a pure resource allocation standpoint, it seems to be making better, more efficient use of resources — which is a good thing, even for those of you who don’t seem to understand the most basic economics.

It’s OK for you to sit in one state and watch what happens in another, I don’t have that luxury – where I live Uber is working on our central government to get laws changed.

How?

Espryonsays:

Hey guys,

I love your podcast and it gives me an opportunity to listen to other techies talk about tech issues and other such things. I just had a request. Can you guys add your podcast as a torrent? like maybe on ThePirateBay. or Kat.cr or ? I was also wondering if you will dedicate another podcast to talking about the recently passed “USA Freedom Act” that supposedly reforms the patriot act but, anyone who is techologically inclined knows this couldn’t be farther from the truth with the exception in the bill of declassifying some of the formerly secret fisa courts documents.

Thanks,

3spryon

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re:

I love your podcast and it gives me an opportunity to listen to other techies talk about tech issues and other such things. I just had a request. Can you guys add your podcast as a torrent?

Hmm. I’ll see… not sure.

I was also wondering if you will dedicate another podcast to talking about the recently passed “USA Freedom Act” that supposedly reforms the patriot act but, anyone who is techologically inclined knows this couldn’t be farther from the truth with the exception in the bill of declassifying some of the formerly secret fisa courts documents.

We’ve written about it plenty. Not sure we’ll do a podcast on it for a variety of reasons. Also, I disagree with the “supposedly.” It does, very much, reform the PATRIOT Act, but (as we’ve noted), it does so only a little bit when much more is needed.

Espryonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The only reason I said ‘supposedly’ is because while it is written in law, the govt always has a different interpretation then what is written and it is reliant on all the other courts interpretation below the the Supreme Court. In addition we have seen even when legally these govt agencies i.e. the NSA, CIA, FBI, DEA, etc are required to declassify documents, many are so heavily redacted they are not worth the toner and the paper to print them. The CIA having been required to declassify some documents actually claims to have ‘lost’ some of the documents. Finally, the way I understand it and the way the media has protrayed it, the only thing this bill gets rid of is the 215 provision for bulk telephone/telephony collection and adds accountability to these formerly secret courts by requiring them to declassify some of the documents processed by this court. As mentioned above the govt has been very lackluster in this department i.e. declassifying documents.

-3spryon

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Finally, the way I understand it and the way the media has protrayed it, the only thing this bill gets rid of is the 215 provision for bulk telephone/telephony collection and adds accountability to these formerly secret courts by requiring them to declassify some of the documents processed by this court

No, that’s wrong. It flat out forbids using selectors that would lead to bulk collection.

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

As I’ve pointed out before, minicab drivers here in Britain have also signed up with UBER, which provides more opportunities for them to get customers.

As for you haters, while there’s no such thing as the free market, the market does exist and market forces are at work. It will continue to do what it does no matter how much protectionism is applied, a lesson I have learned over and over again here on TD.

It’s not UBER or Lyft’s fault that the neocons own the economic narrative so don’t blame them for the state we’re in.

Stop shooting the messenger; the growing on-demand economy is indeed a thing and we’re all going to have to learn how to either adapt to it or make it work for us.

The dismantling of the welfare state and of workers rights is orthogonal to this discussion so take it elsewhere.

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