Bringing big tech to heel: how do we take back control of the internet?
As the web evolves, we should ask how we can maximise its benefits for all and mitigate the obvious damage
When new technology destroyed their livelihood in the early 19th century, a group of workers in northern England took matters into their own hands. They were alpha males, the fittest of the farm workers with the best gig of their time: whacking and cutting sheets of woven wool into shape and then “cropping” the rough surface to make it smooth enough to become stockings for the aristocracy.
It was high-yield, value-added work, earning them three times the average wage for half the time on the job. But when mechanical stocking frames were developed that could do the job six times faster, they found themselves surplus to requirements. What work remained was paid less, the hours were longer, and production had moved indoors, leaving workers “stunted, enfeebled and depraved”.