I know that TechCrunch is not a publication that talks about labor issues at length. But it turns out that much of the recent discourse in tech is giving rise questions that land outside the core remit of technology itself. Just as geopolitics is increasingly a technology story, as are warfare and youth protections, you can’t talk about tech’s biggest issues without touching upon how they affect the masses.
This is evident in the current writer’s strike in Hollywood, where a large creative body is arguing not only for improved compensation for their work but also for a better fit in the new streaming world.
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Changes in the entertainment landscape driven by tech (streaming) have impacted how shows and films are monetized, meaning that the prior norms of the relationship between the entertainment business and the people doing the labor also need to change. Writers are putting their pens down to combat what they consider to be an attack on their well-being.
Reading Cory Doctorow on the strike this morning, I was enraptured by this riff:
The way that the studios make money has changed: streaming is clobbering ad-supported TV and movie theater tickets. The studios are adapting. The workers want to adapt, too. [As Hamilton Nolan writes, however,] the studios would rather “[treat] their work force as a disposable natural resource to be mined, used up, and then abandoned, as business dictates.”
A union gives workers “the same ability to adapt to changing industries that companies already have.” The studios want to leave workers behind. Unions give workers the collective power to say, “No. You’re taking us with you.”
The writer’s strike is a bit off topic for TechCrunch, but both the entertainment and technology industries have something in common: The people working inside these industries are going through a period of rapid change driven by technology.