The digital city and mass labour

There is no doubt that mass labour is a phenomenon associated with industrialisation but what is its relevance, if any, in the digital city? You will recall in the last post I spoke of the digital city resembling an ancient Greek agora on a global scale, the question now is how will this new found city impact on employment trends?

Wordsworth may have aptly described Jerusalem being built among these dark satanic mills but the description stopped there. Many of us have seen the images of these mills calling to workers through the laborious ringing of the bell; a sight which gave new meaning to John Donne’s infamous line ‘never send to know for who the bell tolls; it tolls for thee’. The tolling of the bells gave rise to the need of a mass workforce. In contrast to the agora, the majority of people met not for intellectual or social gain but for employment.

How is the digital city changing this notion? The answer lies in remote working. Remote working has fundamentally changed the landscape of employment in the western world. It is no longer necessary for many workers to travel to a physical building in order to complete their necessary responsibilities. Keeping with the tradition of the bar, a barrister is no longer shackled by the necessity of chambers. Briefs can be sent electronically and the majority of legal resources are now online meaning that work can be done with greater efficiency from a remote location. Office space is not the first item of a list of chambers’ necessities.

While many businesses will continue to utilise office space the precise function will no doubt change with people attending the physical city based upon desire. What that desire is is hard to say given the endless possibilities. As part of this people are likely to attend for intellectual or culture reasons rather than simply because they heard the bell toll.

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