LABOR DAYta by Social Media Senator Good for the Digital District of West Virginia
My name is Crystal Good, I’m Social Media Senator Good for the Digital District of West Virginia, a completely made up but totally real office.
I don’t have a plan but I do have an idea about how and why all Americans should demand compensation from corporations that use their data. The district I represent has a long history of not being compensated for their labor and I believe their story can add context to this data story.
On this Labor Day, the Blackjewell miners stand on the train tracks in Harlan, Kentucky demanding three weeks back pay from Blackjewel, their former employer who filed bankruptcy and left them unpaid.
The Blackjewel miners come from a long line of Appalachian protesters and strikers that, as my Granny would say, “get it honest”. And to be honest, it is these types of demands and this type of courage that has changed American labor laws and the landscape of the American worker.
The Blackjewell miners know that they mined the coal and they should be paid for that labor. They know the coal they mined has value and it wouldn’t even be on a coal train if they didn’t put it there.
Today, we, the American internet user should demand pay for the data we mine.
In Trump country, a group of coal miners rebel over lost jobs, missed paychecks https://t.co/Efdjq1txrb
— Social Media Senator Good For The Digital District (@cgoodwoman) September 1, 2019
How Much Are The Cookies In The Company Store?
There was a time in America’s history when coal miners lived in a company house, shopped at a company store and were paid in scrip. Today I see the same metaphor in the how tech companies trade the data they collect to advertisers and make millions, trillions off us — all for the use of their free “services,” not to mention the lack of privacy and survellience we are all under when we engage with these platforms.
— Social Media Senator Good For The Digital District (@cgoodwoman) September 1, 2019
I recently met with an advertising company, as it is time to launch my next West Virginia Social Media Senator election campaign. My last campaign was in 2015, PT (Pre Trump), I saturated my social media, sent emails, did honk and waves, placed yard signs etc. I did the whole “campaign” bit for two weeks then counted my own votes (I also had my own troll, Jack Squat from Apathy West Virginia) and won. I learned from that campaign how hard it is to get out of your own algorithm of like minds, the echo chamber. I’m planning a more effective campaign for my 2020 re-election and looking into the more traditional campaign mode of operation — emotionally manipulative targeted online ads!
I met with a representative of the “advertising” agency and they were excited to share with me just how targeted I could be with demographics, addresses, lifestyle preferences, income, “ethnicity” and so on. They told me they were not a “advertising company but a data company.” They also said they feared for local advertising sales jobs because they could, with their massive amounts of data across all media platforms, undercut any local sales rep. #learntocode
They told me they are not a “advertising company but a data company.” They also said they feared for local advertising sales jobs because this company with their massive amount of data — across all media platforms can undercut any local sales rep.
For $1,000 a month I can penetrate you with my ads asking you to investigate MIDs (mediators of individual data) or data union models that would rally against the very kinds of platforms I am asking you on.
I’ve lived through a few strikes.
As a girl I always knew the miners were getting ready to strike because my Aunt started stocking up on RC Cola (cause’ you can’t strike without your RC Cola!) And when my former husband and I had just had our first baby, his UFCW Local went on strike. He’s a Union man. At age 50 he has over 35 years of card carrying union membership, that means he’s a one job kinda man. Rare in these days.
As a new Mom with my husband on strike I remember it being one of the scariest times in my life. I can’t imagine what it was like for the women of the 20s. 30s. 40’s… I found comfort in the community and solidarity of people taking care of each other. Union wives bringing my family meals and diapers as we all stood together for a greater goal.
The Blackjewellworkers too are being met in solidarity with community, and some of that community is made up of transgender people, anarchists, every color of person, creed, sexual orientation and the like. Labor history is made by all of America.
I’ve been been front row at many a protest and labor strike. Most recently, the West Virginia teachers’ strike when 20,000 West Virginia teachers set off a national movement (my youngest goes to private school so I didn’t have to worry about a babysitter #fulldisclosure). West Virginia teachers packed the West Virginia capitol with their bodies, signs, chants and demands. It was a sight to behold. The teachers went wildcat, which means they went against their own union leaders and forwent their authorization, support and/or approval of the work stoppage. The wildcat strike illustrates the long history of tensions between workers and union leaders. It’s a three dimensional chess game and with data, four.
“When I get to the otherside, I shall tell God Almighty about West Virginia!” ~ Mother Jones
I’m a sixth generation West Virgian. I’m no stranger to West Virginia political corruption stories and equally magnificent solidarity stories. My pastor said. “ If you see a good fight get in it” and today, the GOOD fight I see for ourselves and our children is the fight for data rights.
We need to take a closer look at how we in central Appalachia, my West Virginia, are under the control of industry, politicians, union leaders, and the great grant makers of the sky and their benevolent benificieries, nonprofits and create a new model. We can at least begin to think about what that looks like and what labor means to a data economy.
I’m curious about RadicalXChange.
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We are in a monumental pivot of time where we can see ourselves and what we contribute, to ourselves and the economy at large, in new ways.
West Virginia teachers showed America what happens when voices unite on labor issues. The “big” strike was two years ago and I still occasionally, when thinking about data rights, get myself excited by jamming to the teachers chant that I heard in unison of 5,000 voices: “Move MITCH get out the way.. Get out of the way” to the tune of rapper Ludicrous “Move *itch Get Out Da Way”
— Ryan Quinn (@RyanEQuinn) February 23, 2018
The teachers were referring to Mitch Carmicheal, West Virginia Senate Majority leader but many Americans may say the same about US Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky’s. Certainly Don Blankenship, the union busting coal baron and vile enemy of Mitch Mcconnell (#cocainemitch), would agree. Politics makes for strage bedfellows and Twitter followers.
West Virginia’s relationship to labor strikes dates back to 1877 with the railroad strike, The Great Coal Strike of 1902, The Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912,The Black Lung Strike (1969),The 1977–78 Strike and The Pittston Coal Strike (1989–1990). If you are curious here is a good West Virginia Labor History intro: https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/1271
Today I am on my Facebook strike.
I quit, deactivated. Poof, gone. Forever ever (*In my Outkast voice*).
I know that Facebook and many others are using my data and selling it to the very same type of “data companies” that I will buy my targeted politocal ads from. And I don’t get a penny for it.
The good news is, Facebook is investing in West Virginia to help us with fiber optic cable (see my TedX Corbin talk funded by Jd Vance AppHarvest). This may seem like a nice gesture, (Not JD Vance sponosoring my TedX Corbin Talk but Facebooks gift to West Virginia) but perhaps the generosity is about collecting data from Appalachian miners for the “company” store.
Yet and still, social media is important in our rural landscape because it connects us. The local newspaper is all but gone and Facebook is our meeting place, most of us have a deep attachment to it. I know, my office is built on Social Media.
However in the spirit of Mother Jones, God and data I gotta ask what about the children and their labor? Why about you and your labor? What about the safety, the emotional safety of all on these platforms?
West Virginia and Central Appalachia are often painted in a stereotype of the ignorant hillbilly and redneck and I think it’s time we make that stereotype work for us!
Just recently I was being interviewed by a national publication (I won’t mention the name but it rhymes with steeple). The reporter felt comfortable enough to say to me, “I can tell you this because you are not white, or a hillbilly redneck. ” Then proceeded to tell me a story about a time they visited my hometown, Charletson and “there were white men just walking around with big heads.”
I was stunned that a reporter from a national magazine was surprised that white men were walking around…… in West Virginia. The big heads part was new and kinda funny, but what wasn’t funny was how this educated reporter was trying to bond with me based on her perception of the meaning of these slurs in solidarity. At the time I was still on Facebook and when I shared this story the comments went on for days.
The reporter was sloppy but clearly she didn’t google me or she would have learned:
1. I am a Senator!
2. I write poems and speak often against this type of Appalachian stereotype.
I quickly corrected her.
Her editor called me to apologize and to tell me that if I wanted to continue the interview I would be assigned a new reporter. I agreed and I gave her a good ole fashioned West Virginian table talk on the Battle of Blair Mountain — the largest armed insurrection in the US since the Civil War.
The Battle of Blair Mountain, 1921 when thousands of armed and enraged coal miners, marched toward Logan and Mingo counties to confront the coal companies and rescue imprisoned union men after company agents assassinated a local pro-union police chief.
It’s quite a story! One I encourage you to know. Because of Blair Mountain, the word “redneck” to me is in the legacy of the red bandanas that marching miners wore around their necks.
I am a proud “redneck.”
Auntie Senator with Azariah
Just as the West Virginia teachers wore red bandanas to show their solidarity I must stand up in with my redneck values for our data rights on this Labor Day.
I must start the conversation with my constituents of workers of all collars and those left out of most technology conversations. Talk with the economic developers who think “call centers” count as tech jobs and start the education process where we start to understand our social media data as labor!
Our data is not capital owned by tech firms. It is ours.
Today, I also stand with the Blackjewel miners. They are the heirloom seeds of traditional labor and the fabric of the American worker.
I ask that you support the Blackjewel miners — and me in thinking of how we can protect our privacy, control how our data is being, and generate income from our data assets.