Photo: Ym Yik/EPA via 9to5Mac
In Goodbye iSlave: A Manifesto for Digital Abolition (U of Illinois Press, 2016), Jack Qiu contends that features of enslavement have crept into the digital media industries, leading to the worsening of labor conditions along the assembly line and in the data mine. How then can designers counteract, using not only conventional tools of creativity but also the same digital media instruments such as the smartphone, as exemplified by the Fairphone project and the PhoneStory mobile game? Drawing from his research in China, lessons from history, and studies of contemporary campaigns, Qiu argues that designers always play a pivotal role in endeavors of antislavery when the exploited resist the powers that be, when artists, professionals, and citizens of all trades join the struggle to set humanity free. Although digital abolition at its present stage is still inchoate, it is undoubtedly an important first step. Its long-term implication shall not be underestimated.
Jack Linchuan Qiu is Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he serves as Director of the C-Centre (Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research). His publications include Goodbye iSlave (Univ of Illinois Press, 2016), World’s Factory in the Information Age (Guangxi Normal Univ Press, 2013), Working-Class Network Society (MIT Press, 2009), and Mobile Communication and Society (co-authored, MIT Press, 2006), some of which have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean. He is on the editorial boards of 12 international academic journals, including six indexed in the SSCI, and is Associate Editor for Journal of Communication. He also works with grassroots NGOs and provides consultancy services for international organizations.