The default trade union position on new technology is Luddism 2.0. Anecdotes abound of a Life on Mars world where trade union officials get their secretaries to print out their emails, or use their computer screens for post-it notes. This luddism is not entirely irrational: technology has a long history of putting people out of work, as well as monitoring and controlling them. Some trade unionists seem determined to avoid entering the 21st century at all costs.
However, the success of new technology in Obama’s election campaign, and more recently in organising student protests and the wave of democracy that has swept across the Middle East during the Arab Spring, has lead many unionists to realise that “every tool is a weapon if you hold it right”, as Ani DiFranco puts it. Continue reading