‘The Elephant in the Device’, Silvio Lorusso on Gig Platform Fiverr

Need a logo, webdesign, translation, or set of subtitles? In the mood for something more extravagant, like a personal video message from Jesus Christ? Fiverr is your place to go. On this online marketplace, you can order freelance services quickly, easily, and cheaply from anywhere in the world.

These extravagant possibilities spur the question of their creation. What happens behind the scenes of the interface? How to (not) use gig platforms as a cultural worker? And how to manipulate and subvert their structures?

To kick off the Post-Precarity Autumn Camp, designer and researcher Silvio Lorusso gave a lecture on Fiverr, unpacking the six aspects of the gig platform that should be separately explored to ultimately arrive at an integral understanding. These aspects are: 1) the historic development of the user interface, 2) the surprising range of services, 3) the framing of the buyer – in the case of Fiverr, they’re called ‘doer’, which suggests that doing is outsourcing, 4) the representation of the sellers (usually white, often sexualized, always excellent), compared to observation of the workforce composition while scrolling gigs, 5) deplatforming practices – think of the pornography ban on OnlyFans, and 6) media representation, such as reviews, first-person stories, techno-utopian think pieces, and founder interviews.