When we talk about the gig economy and using technology to enable great new services for customers, we mostly talk about them from the perspective of the platforms; innovative tech, great user experiences, new business models, regulations – and valuations.
Which is exactly why it is so interesting that the table is starting to get turned now.
Not only have politicians in several countries been debating new regulation and how to classify gig workers in terms of their ‘partnership’ with said platforms (London is the latest example). Gig workers are also starting to deploy tech themselves.
UberCheats is a great example of this.
It is basically an extension for the Chrome browser that allows a rider for UberEats to calculate the correct distance travelled with an order and compare it to UberEats own registrations, which – is claimed – are often based on direct point-to-point distances (straight lines) rather than the actual available route to get there.
The extension was released last summer but was removed by Uber following a complaint about trademark infringement. But now it’s back again after Google sided with the developer following an appeal.
Irrespective of the plugin in question, it is super interesting that gig workers are starting to turn the ‘weapons’ of the big platforms against themselves. Take the power back, so to say.
In that respect the case has some comparisons to the whole Gamestop/Reddit/hedge fund debacle recently. Here the masses got together and turned on Wall St for a couple of frantic weeks leading to huge losses on short positions of Gamestop stock at a couple of hedge funds (and with private investors who failed to get out and were left holding the bag).
It is a sign that access to technology has been democratized in such a way that nothing is keeping anyone from just accepting to be at the short end of the stick.
While that is super interesting in itself, it is also super interesting, because it has the potential to pick at the fundamental power structures of this interconnected age.
And who knows what might end up coming out of that?
Gamestop/Reddit and UberCheats may just be the very beginning of people using tech to take the power back from tech.