ALGORITHMIC IMAGINARIES IN THE MAKING: BRAZILIAN UBERTUBERS ENCOUNTERS WITH SURGE PRICING ALGORITHMS
Keywords:Algorithms, Uber, Surge pricing, Labor
AbstractThis paper explores the algorithmic imaginaries associated with Uber's surge pricing, a central mediator of Uber drivers' labor experience. Surge pricing can be described as an algorithmically driven mechanism that uses price adjustments as financial incentives to redistribute the workforce on a territory. Inspired by Critical Algorithm Studies, we argue that this mechanism of governance is not passively incorporated by drivers and that their everyday encounters with surge pricing algorithms are productive of imaginaries and valid forms of knowledge that orient their practices. We approach this by mapping and analyzing how popular Brazilian Uber drivers on YouTube (the “UberTubers”, as we propose) discuss surge pricing in their channels. Based on 59 videos about surge pricing posted at the seven most popular Brazilian Ubertuber’s channels, we outline three main topics approached: (a) What is surge pricing and what does it do?; (b) Tactics to benefit from surge pricing; (c) Algorithmic Labor as a laboratory. Among our findings, we identified that some Ubertubers produce and share their own visual inscriptions to explain how surge pricing works. Through the engagement with their audience, Ubertubers collectivize their experiences and imaginations potentially transforming how various other drivers incorporate surge pricing into their own tactics and daily routines. These channels provide us with something similar to an “archive” of surge pricing’s many versions and facets and offer us the opportunity to learn how algorithms are perceived and how they shape labor on a micropolitical level.
How to Cite
Guerra, A., & de Brito d’Andréa, C. F. (2021). ALGORITHMIC IMAGINARIES IN THE MAKING: BRAZILIAN UBERTUBERS ENCOUNTERS WITH SURGE PRICING ALGORITHMS. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12177