Photo credit: Charles Winninger and Judy Garland, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, California, USA.
Recently saw the classic movie titled “Little Nellie Kelly” (1940), starring Judy Garland, at the end of the film, we finally learn that her grandfather is working as a horse drawn carriage driver, in New York city. As we see in this last scene of this movie, horses and humans are fragile and they can both have their misfortunes disappear in an instance. Shit happens! Horses provide labor-value to humans, just as working class humans provide labor-value to capitalist. One aspect of today’s global tourism industry is the romantic horse drawn carriage ride. An ever-growing number of cities offer some sort of tour via this old tradition. This proposal will explain how the mobile app titled, “The Horse Carriage Drivers App”, will infuse social justice and try to rectify the injustices that the tourism industry companies sometimes inflict on their human workers and their horses.
In order to explain the situation, we need to review some of the issues of the tourism practices that are affecting today’s hot topics. Right out of the gate, please accept this disclaimer, NOT every company is guilty of any social justice infractions. However, some of these places are a living hell to work at. First, capitalist, company owners run businesses that offer tours to customers. The customers pay for the service, through cash, credit, or direct debit. Second, carriage drivers give the customers tours, usually through historic districts, scenic areas and special occasions. Third, the carriage drivers exchange their labor for money, which the companies pay and usually withhold state and federal taxes. The horses are paid by food, shelter, care etc.. There is a lot more to these societal equations than you might ordinarily think.
Society is altered by new technology into a new social image, or a modern self- realization. This is what Karl Marx’s notion of technology determining the form of society is basically speaking to. As the speed of production has increased in the capitalist modern world so has our need for faster signal processing. Now tourist and tour guides email digital receipts back and forth between office and the street. The mobile phone has become what Ling and Donner point out is called the “Swiss Army knife” (Ling and Donner, 2009, p.11). These authors go on to say that because the mobile phone is used as a camera, a rolodex, a calendar and a text reader; that going forward new uses will be invented. This Horse Carriage Driver mobile application, which is grounding the functional design in social justice, will utilize GPS mapping, group SMS messaging and pre-programed tour resources in html links.
Ling and Donner tell the story of live-in-maids in Singapore that were discouraged by their employers of using mobile telephones. The maids felt they needed the phone to keep in touch with love ones, family and friends. According to this account, the employers did not approve of this “information pooling”; the maids would compare notes on working conditions, pay, shifts worked, sleeping hours, and when they compare they became unhappy (Ling, 2009, p.121-122). This app will suggest using the same way that the maids needed to hide the mobile phones and use them surreptitiously. I really don’t want hard working people to be fired from their jobs because their employer found they were breaking the rules by having discourse about work. Later in this proposal the topics of surveillance and privacy will be discussed.
Below is the list of three peer-reviewed scholarly articles I’ll be drawing ideas for my research paper.
#1 Veijola, Soile. (2009) “Introduction: Tourism as Work.”
retrieved from http://tou. Sagepub.com/content/9/2/83
Some of the contributors from this special article are explained here,
Business and consumption researcher Anu Valtonen critically examines the prevailing ways of understanding the epistemic agency of market actors and emphasizes the underprivileged knowledge of small tourism firms and their employees – who, as intermediaries in the global cultural economy, are in the position of implementing rich practical knowledge in their work. Candice Harris, researcher in human resource management, discusses the psychological contract between employers and employees in tourism and hospitality management and demonstrates the real and symbolic consequences of a positive, collectivist workplace culture.
(Veijola, S. 2009)
#2 “AAEP national guidelines for commercial city carriage horses.”
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, ISSN 07337-0806, 1995, Volume 15, Issue 2, p. 70
According to AAEP news about guidelines for horse carriage company operators, (1999), “The propriety of urban use of horses must be determined by the elected legislative representative of each individual city government”. So, the rules that affect business in each location varies, but the bottom line is that of the dignity and well-being of the horses, is the responsibility of the carriage company owners. This document is writing for the US context, and this app is being designed for use in the United States only. The idea for this mobile application is from the point of view of the workers, the drivers. The goal is to create a Social Justice Network for drivers, design by drivers. This design is really for a niche target audience. Also, there is a need to address the issues and to rectify injustice; find other owners to work for and receive better education. As per Doctor Shaw’s feedback from the field report, she asked if I could expand the target audience to maybe tourism in general. In order to consider the whole tourism industry would be too difficult of an undertaken at this time. Maybe in future versions of this design process we could tackle all downtrodden, exploited and low-paid tourism staff.
#3 Sayer, Andrew. (2009) “The injustice of unequal work.”
Soundings, ISSN 1362-6620, 12/2009, Volume 43, Issue 1, p. 102
As Andrew Sayer writes in “The injustice of unequal work”, “The most popular defense of an unequal division of Labor argues that it’s an inevitable product of inequalities in people’s abilities and intelligence” (Sayer, 2005). Some of these companies that inspired this mobile app and the idea, treat their employees with no account for human well-being.
At my own workplace, there is a large turnover of drivers. In the first year that I’ve worked for this company, approximately 25 people have come and gone. There are three main reasons for this. First, harm from mental abuse, second, bad working conditions, and third, there is an argument, from senior management about the abilities and attitude of the workers, when in many drivers opinion it is the management, that lacks grace. Some of the most difficult and challenging aspects of this project are the concerns for bias, surveillance, and privacy; more work needs to be done in these areas.
Surveillance from Facebook is already happening at my own workplace. Senior management monitors post from employees, because certain employees ‘friend’ the boss, you can just imagine what kind of stalking goes on. Therefore this app will require usernames and passwords so that drivers have access to members-only areas of the app.
With this app the drivers, like the maids, could use “information pooling’ or data mining. They could share which companies treat their employees better. For example, a driver may want to work in North Carolina for the summer. With the pre-programmed links they could find information pertaining to pay schemes, working hours, how does the company handle grievance. Basically, from the pooling of resources the drivers could work for the better outfits, and move to a nicer working environment.
The two visual design project ideas are, to create a mock up of what the app will look like, one using Adobe After Effects, and the second using Prezi. The plan is to create simulated mobile app screen shots, which would incorporate the look and brand of the proposed idea. The content will be use to present to the msp4541 class during the last two weeks of the semester.
Here is the concrete timeline for the completion of this project. Since I work every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday – as a horse carriage driver; I will dedicate every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, throughout March and April to finish this project, on time and under budget!
AAEP National Guidelines for Commercial City Carriage Horses.
retrieved from Journal of Equine Veterinary Science
Ling, R. Donner, J. (2009) Mobile Communication.
Malden, MA: Polity Press
Veijola, S. (2010) Introduction: Tourism as Work.
Published by Sage: Tourist Studies 2009 9: 83 DOI: 10.1177/1468797609360748
Sayer, A. (2005) The injustice of unequal work.
The Moral Significance of Class, Cambridge University Press