In Bogota, Colombia
In Bogota, Colombia
Rafael Orduz

BOGOTA — The significance of Uber goes well beyond its specific function, which is to connect willing drivers with people who need to move around in a safe, comfortable and punctual manner. The deeper message of the controversial digital application — and others like it — is in the changing way labor and service markets are organized by providing new means of satisfying the needs of consumers who are better informed than we could have ever imagined in the past.

I won't dwell here on the legal arguments for or against Uber, or the fact that reactive lobbying has won for now in Spain and the Netherlands. The application remains active in more than 50 countries and its turnover in 2014 was over $1 billion. It already has emulators in California, such as Lyft and Sidecar.

What I do want to point out is that the Uber model is effectively applicable to any field. With mobile platforms, people can post information on a range of needs, anywhere and at any time and be connected with others who are able and ready to satisfy those needs.

A typical organizational prototype is this: A small firm identifies a range of home services that households might need at any time (plumbing, electricity, cleaning). The firm then "recruits" thousands of suitable people and offers through the digital platform and makes the information available to customers who can then purchase the services at a price that suits them.

Another website, Airbnb, provides more than half a million rooms and lodgings at varied prices, worldwide. Its model is simple: Homes with unused rooms register with this platform and customers, including here in Colombia, access what they need in a safe and easy manner. As with Uber, hotel associations in various countries want Airbnb blocked.

Services provided online this way include those of programmers, home-visit doctors, accountants, cooks or hairdressers. In the U.S., some firms are even following this model to pay for temporary CEOs to resolve specific problems.

Seven years after the 2008 financial crisis, joblessness is rampant around the world. In Colombia, the youth unemployment rate is double the national average, and if you consider underemployment as well, the situation is downright scary.

It is quite probable that in the coming years, hundreds of thousands of Colombians, especially the young, will offer their talents and services through platforms without seeking the permission of traditional business owners. It is economy dictacted by demand. Those who would wish it away are simply being shortsighted.

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Ideas

How Facebook Knowingly Undermines The World's Largest Democracy

Facebook whistleblower Sophie Zhang says that the tech giant knowingly facilitates undermining democracy in India. Fair voting cannot be guaranteed if real people's voices are drowned out by armies of fake online commentators.

The Tek Fog app is allegedly used by online operatives to hijack social media

Sophie Zhang

-OpEd-

NEW DELHI — Earlier this month, The Wire published an exposé on Tek Fog, an app allegedly used by India's ruling, right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make social engineering easier. The app is allegedly used by online operatives to hijack social media and amplify right-wing propaganda in the country.

The investigation immediately grabbed the attention of the Indian public. For the first time, everyday Indians were given insight into the inner workings of a major political party's Information Technology Cell (IT cell). Indians were forced to confront the possibility that their everyday reality was shaped not by the Indian public but the whims of shadowy political operatives.

They also discovered that their own ruling party would seek to phish their phones with spyware for the purpose of sending party-line propaganda impersonating them to friends and family. Such serious allegations more closely resemble an authoritarian dictatorship like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and their hired online commentators, the 50 Cent Army (五毛党), than the world’s largest democracy.

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