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Uberland

How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work
Narrated by: Emily Beresford
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
4 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Silicon Valley technology is transforming the way we work, and Uber is leading the charge. An American startup that promised to deliver entrepreneurship for the masses through its technology, Uber instead built a new template for employment using algorithms and Internet platforms. Upending our understanding of work in the digital age, Uberland paints a future where any of us might be managed by a faceless boss.

The neutral language of technology masks the powerful influence algorithms have across the New Economy. Uberland chronicles the stories of drivers in more than 25 cities in the United States and Canada over four years, shedding light on their working conditions and providing a window into how they feel behind the wheel. The book also explores Uber's outsized influence around the world: The billion-dollar company is now influencing everything from debates about sexual harassment and transportation regulations to racial equality campaigns and labor rights initiatives.

Based on award-winning technology ethnographer Alex Rosenblat's firsthand experience of riding over 5,000 miles with Uber drivers, daily visits to online forums, and face-to-face discussions with senior Uber employees, Uberland goes beyond the headlines to reveal the complicated politics of popular technologies that are manipulating both workers and consumers.

©2018 Alex Rosenblat (P)2018 Gildan Media

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Easily best technology and business book I’ve read this year

This was the most engaging read - intertwined and often troubling driver stories mixed with incredible insights based on clearly detailed research. A must-read.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • MC
  • 03-16-19

The Good, The Bad, and The...

The Good, The Bad, and The ... Unnecessary

This is a laudable work indeed on the part of Ms. Rosenblat, who is much more than an author with this work; her book, it's more a comprehensive investigative and detailed field report on everything Uber, i.e. everything that is so very wrong with Uber. Does she, Alex Rosenblat, have an axe to grind? LOL she has a thousand axes to grind, and wow, she does in extraordinary fashion, grind them most all on Uber and in ways that make me wonder about her motives. She is so committed, so thorough in her attack, and yes, this book is a full on attack of EVERYTHING Uber. Was she scorned by Travis Kalanik back in high school or college? Did her family own a traditional taxi company that was made completely obsolete by Uber and other technology taxi companies? I have no idea, but I do wonder, for her work is on a scale uncommon for just an exposé, or even many serious treatments on a topic; you get the feeling her intent was to single-handedly destroy Uber. If that was her aim, did she succeed? No. But damn she tried.

The Good

She does expose some questionable methods of Uber's business model, but they appear to me to fall into the category of creative ways of maximizing profit on a capitalistic playing field and doing a tremendously successful job of it. Does the latter justify the former? Probably not in some respects but Uber is certainly not alone and, well, if one is to indict Uber then one will also indict much of corporate America.

The Bad

Running with two erroneous background assumptions: a) that Uber is different from most any other American multi-national company and that Uber is singularly unfair to its employees and the independent contractors that choose to use its app. (this is a horse she just cannot stop beating). b) the idea that a startup or disruptive business model must when it pivots do so not only to survive as a company but also in a way to abide by existing government regulations, no matter how old or inapplicable those regs might be. This is an absurd notion because if applied, it could likely arrest or destroy the very thing that makes an idea creative or beneficial in the first place. The fact that government regulators cannot keep up with innovation is a regulatory problem, not a company one.

Technology has enabled many industries to be more corrupt than they ever were. No surprise there. But to portray Uber as a special case and alone in its Machiavellian corporate management, operational methods, or marketing schemes is just naive. But again, the author is young, so while I call this out as a major weakness in her approach, at the same time I am still very, very impressed with her potential for this type of authorship. She is a bright light.

The Unnecessary

Her liberal bias with the typical attendant assumptions, including this odd trend to want to deny the common physical differences between the sexes as an attempt to "equalize" the genders. This bias drips heavily in places and is palpable from start to finish. She takes some potshots (e.g. at white people, the POTUS) so fashionable today with liberals, which amounted to a whole star taken off of the five total that I might, if it weren't also for the foregoing naiveté (another whole star deduction), have given her. But she is a woman of her time (millennial I am guessing), a time when the political pendulum has swung high and far to the left.

I wish her well and hope to give her fives stars on one of her future books.


0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Okay book, rough narration

The narration of this book sounded very robotic, with weirdly placed intonations. The book itself was okay. For a book with a narrow scope it could have gone into more detail, or simply been shorter. If you are super curious about Uber then it might be of interest. But if you just have a general interest in the topic, its not going to hurt you if you skip over this one.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful