The secretive ride-hailing giant Uber rarely discusses internal matters in public. But in March, facing crises on multiple fronts, top officials convened a call for reporters to insist that Uber was changing its culture and would no longer tolerate “brilliant jerks.”
Notably, the company also announced that it would fix its troubled relationship with drivers, who have complained for years about falling pay and arbitrary treatment.
“We’ve underinvested in the driver experience,” a senior official said. “We are now re-examining everything we do in order to rebuild that love.”
And yet even as Uber talks up its determination to treat drivers more humanely, it is engaged in an extraordinary behind-the-scenes experiment in behavioral science to manipulate them in the service of its corporate growth — an effort whose dimensions became evident in interviews with several dozen current and former Uber officials, drivers and social scientists, as well as a review of behavioral research.
Uber’s innovations reflect the changing ways companies are managing workers amid the rise of the freelance-based “gig economy.” Its drivers are officially independent business owners rather than traditional employees with set schedules. This allows Uber to minimize labor costs, but means it cannot compel drivers to show up at a specific place and time. And this lack of control can wreak havoc on a service whose goal is to seamlessly transport passengers whenever and wherever they want.
Read the rest of this article at: The NewYork Times
For 18 years, I thought She Was Stealing My Identity. Until I Found Her
By the time the cop called “Lisa Davis”, I’d been sitting in the hard wooden pew in New York City criminal court for two hours. The courthouse swirled with diminished beauty: cracked marble, tarnished brass. It seemed so unlikely that it could feel like an actual hall of justice, that hope could find its way past the bulletproof glass and the metal detectors.
I stood and smoothed my shirt, adjusted the 18 years’ worth of papers in my manila file folder, and tried to catch my breath. Please let today be the day it ends, I silently prayed. Let today be the day I clear my name.
It started at the West Palm Beach airport in 1998. I was 26, finally old enough to rent a car on my own, and had headed down to Florida with my younger sister to see our grandparents, who lived in a modest condo complex full of other ageing middle-class Jews from New York, eight miles from the ocean.
But when I handed the clerk at the Dollar Rent-a-Car counter my driver’s license, she ran it through the system and handed it back.
“It’s suspended,” she said.
“What? How?” I lived in New York City, and didn’t own a car. I drove only when work – I made props for a kids’ TV show – required it.
The clerk said that I’d have to go the department of motor vehicles (DMV). So, slightly humiliated, I called Gramma from the payphone to pick us up.
Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian
Burn After Reading
WHEN CHINA boldly seized a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea last December and initially refused to give it back, the incident ignited a weeklong political standoff and conjured memories of a similar event more than 15 years ago.
In April 2001, just months before the 9/11 attacks gripped the nation, a U.S. Navy spy plane flying a routine reconnaissance mission over the South China Sea was struck by a People’s Liberation Army fighter jet that veered aggressively close. The mid-air collision killed the Chinese pilot, crippled the Navy plane, and forced it to make an emergency landing at a Chinese airfield, touching off a tense international showdown for nearly two weeks while China refused to release the two-dozen American crew members and damaged aircraft.
The sea drone captured in December was a research vessel, not a spy craft, according to the Pentagon, so its seizure didn’t risk compromising secret military technology. That wasn’t the case with the spy plane, which carried a trove of surveillance equipment and classified signals intelligence data.
Read the rest of this article at: The Intercept
Paul Beatty Talks About His Award-Winning, Post-Race Novel, The Sellout
You don't so much read The Sellout as much as it reads you. It's an utterly acerbic, brilliantly biting, linguistically dense, completely challenging book that is in turns provocative, compelling, beautifully rhythmic and brilliantly humorous. It's bonkers. Utterly, but brilliantly bonkers, thanks to its author's wildly imaginative narrative that utilises slavery and segregation to challenge ideas around politics, political correctness, civil rights, race, identity, psychology, law, as well as the people, ideas and constitution of the United States itself. An unflinching look at a post-racial America, The Sellout is living, breathing literary activism written with flamboyance, elegance and style.
i-D meets Paul Beatty, the poet-turned author and academic, and the second ever non-British person to win the Man Booker Prize (following in the 2015 footsteps of Jamaican Marlon James) to discover how, when and why he conjured up one of the best books of recent years.
Read the rest of this article at: iD
In Conversation: David Letterman
Since retiring after 33 years on the late night television, David Letterman has kept a low public profile — aided by the growth of a truly impressive beard. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been as fixated on politics as the rest of us. “If I still had a show,” says the 69-year-old, dressed in a baggy sweater and cargo pants and sitting high above midtown Manhattan in a conference room at his publicist’s offices, “people would have to come and take me off the stage. ‘Dave, that’s enough about Trump. We’ve run out of tape.’ It’s all I’d be talking about. I’d be exhausted.” Late-night TV comedy has offered some of the sharpest — and most-remarked-upon — responses to the Trump presidency. But despite the work of Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Saturday Night Live, and the rest, it’s hard not to wish Letterman, late-night’s greatest ironist and most ornery host, was still around to take aim. And so we’ve brought him out of retirement to weigh in on life after television and his old frequent guest and punching bag, the man he calls Trumpy.
David Marchese: I’ve always loved Leaves of Grass, so it’s a pleasure to meet the man who wrote it.
David Letterman: I’ve given up on making that kind of joke because I ran out of people with beards other than Walt WhitmanMost famous bearded poet. that anyone knew — the joke didn’t work as well when I used Frederick Douglass. But great things have happened to me since I’ve been walking around with this beard. I was in Santa Monica, at the Ocean Park Café, and this woman comes over and she says, “Are you who I think you are?” And I said, “That depends on who you think I am.” She said, “You’re Chuck Close.”American painter who began as a photorealist, then adopted a dappled, pixelated style after becoming paralyzed in 1988. No resemblance to Letterman.I said, “Yeah, yeah, I am.” She said, “Oh my God” — she has a whole story. She was an art major, and for her final project she did a pencil-drawing portrait of Chuck Close. She said, “It was the best thing I did in all of college.” I finally said, “I’m not Chuck Close.” Boom, she’s out like a shot. Gone. Then she comes back and says, “That really disappoints me.”
The other thing is that somebody who loves Chuck Close that much might know that, unlike you, he’s in a wheelchair.
Good point. I wish you had been with us. Another time with this beard, I was in New York City standing on Sixth Avenue, and a woman on the sidewalk looked at me and she said, “Do you have a television show?” “No, I don’t.” “Did you used to have a television show?” “Yes, I did.” “What happened?” “I got fired.” “Are you David Letterman?” “Yes, I am.” And then she said, “Man, they fucked you up.”
Read the rest of this article at: Vulture