Instaserfs (part three of three)

“This is part of the sharing economy, I am sharing myself”
Our instaserfs series comes to a crushing conclusion, Hear Instapoder Andrew attempt to manserve…  Plus we meet two former Uber drivers! Also this Thursday July 9th 3pm EST a live online ToE post-listening party. Visit for details. Your host will be there, along with Andrew and some of the guests featured in the show, plus Mary Gray a researcher who studies labor and the sharing economy. Special thanks to our new sponsor

15 comments on Instaserfs (III of III)

  1. Amazing series. I hope i get the time to do something of the like in spanish. Loved the immersion of the characters on the world of the bullshit economy. Down here in Mexico it has only come to Uber and Cabify issues. Don’t know if we will ever have Manservant or Washio -or probably there is, but on a smaller scale-.

    Hope you come to Guadalajara some time, Benjamen. I’d love to talk about podcasting and stories with you.

    1. Nick's Childhood Diary says:

      Harry Campbell makes money selling drivers into services like Uber and Lyft. If you look at his website you’ll see promo codes near the bottom of the first page. Harry receives a “bounty” for every driver that signs up through him. I thought the article was great until he was quoted. Harry once “taught” a class for drivers on how to maintain a 5 star rating on Uber’s subjective ratings system.
      Harry often “borrows” from the writing of Kelly Dessaint- .

  2. JRT says:

    Good podcast and interesting series overall, but sometimes Andrew’s voice seems overly whining or stressed out. You signed up for this and it’s only temporary. A lot of people have to make a living off of this kind of work, but lucky for you, the experience is over.

  3. Ben says:

    Loved this series!

  4. Jordan says:

    After listening to this series, I thought it might be fun to see if any amusing insight would pop up via anagrams. Not a lot of insight, but amusing nonetheless.

    A few anagrams of “the sharing economy”…

    = A Recent Hog’s Hominy
    = The Garnish Economy
    = The Rosy China Gnome
    = The Nacho Orgy Mines
    = The Garish Money Con
    = The Money Organ’s Chi
    = A Hitcher Money Song
    = The No-Money Car Sigh
    = The Cash-Eyeing Moron
    = I, the yon Cash-Monger
    = The Horny Manic Egos
    = The Magic Horny Ones

    and if Andrew, the “instapoder”, needs to make a self-introduction:

    = The Name is “Horny Cog”

  5. Brian says:

    I’m not sure what the ultimate point is here. Uber/ are offering employment opportunities that people aren’t forced to take.

    I suppose the point is that there are too many workers in the system, who don’t really understand how much they’re making. Is it up to the platform to provide this education?

    1. Michael says:


      I think in some cases, the employment opportunities being offered are increasingly the only opportunities to be found in those fields of work. The example given most time in this series was taxi drivers being superseded by Uber drivers. In that scenario, if you want to be a professional driver (or you have been for some number of years), Uber and Lyft are increasingly becoming the main option for work. And it’s being driven largely under the guise of “this is better for the consumer” but also the companies themselves saying (perhaps dubiously?) that it’s “better for the drivers” too.

      To your question about the platform providing education, another thing I took away from this piece is that the platforms aren’t really that invested in providing much of an education to their workers about most of the job – not just the pay. The repeated experiences Andrew had with the worker-version of the app being difficult to use; the lack of direct support for workers with central command; the obfuscation around ratings; forcing people into taking jobs without giving them details. The platforms are made to sound like they’re bare-bones operations, yet they’re taking a huge cut (20%?)? It definitely made me think about what employment *should* look like.

      Anyway, I’m keen to hear/read more research on the subject (one of the guests talked about entering into more of that). I know there are benefits in some scenarios.

  6. b says:

    The guest named Brooklyn mentioned that black ppl and women and esp black women have been living w/ this precarity for so long and it’s not new–BUT she then says it’s ok. But how is the erosion of workers’ rights won for us all by unions OK just b/c black folks and women have been plundered, disrespected, and ripped off for so long?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *