"Think, for a moment, of the real estate broker in the age of Craigslist. In real estate, there are buyers and sellers. These two parties have, from the very beginning, needed a forum to meet each other. Given the high barrier to entry as well as the high price point of the transaction, a market developed in order to “broker” these transactions. These brokers took a fee, of course, since there was no way around them. Today, when you perform a direct search for owners listing their properties online (for free), you still find brokers listing their client’s properties on Craigslist. The clearest indicator of an industry in its death throes arrives at that moment where it is forced to utilize the tool of its own dispossession to stay alive. During this period, the worker can only hope that few notice its total disintermediation."
Earlier this year I published an essay in the Straddler discussing the rise of the digital proletariat. It argued that while digital frameworks have made redundant a large segment of the employed—specifically those who derive their value as “information service” workers—an ideology of digital emancipation and “connectedness” cloaks the deep threat to the middle class. I tried to bring together the thoughts of Jaron Lanier, Evgeny Morozov, and Jaques Rancière, whose classic 1975 essay Off to the Exhibition: The Worker, his Wife and the Machines detailed the discourse of Parisian tradesmen in the face of the mechanization on display at the Paris Exhibition Universelle of 1867.