LABOUR AND DIGITIZATION
Keywords:mass digitization, cultural labour
In 2011, artist Andrew Norman Wilson was working as a subcontractor doing video work for Google at the Mountainview California Googleplex. He’d noticed that the workers entering and exiting the building next door had different working conditions to the majority of the workers at the site and discovered they were working on the Google Books mass digitization project. One day he took his camera down to film them leaving the building at the end of the shift and the next day he was fired. Wilson used the footage to create a video he calls “Workers Leaving the Googleplex” (2011), and projects such as Krissy Wilson’s “The Art of Google Books” destabilise the fictional veneer of smooth clean surfaces that the Google Books project projects into the world. The growing field of critical infrastructure studies helps us to unpack and understand the multiple dimensions operating This paper argues that notions of the particularities of digital labour of all kinds are central to developing a more comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of digital cultural objects, both born-digital and digitised. The paper considers the often invisible, contingent, omitted or assumed labour involved in digitization projects, using thinking from critical infrastructure studies, new media, media archaeology and creative labour.