Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
image from the TaskRabbit website shows one of the company's workers
assembling a piece of furniture — a task the site says will pay $45.
The unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, but the
underemployment rate — that's people who work part time but want
full-time work — is much higher. For many people, making ends meet means
cobbling together various part-time jobs. And there are some apps for
Shannon Mills has blanketed the floor
in a spacious home in Corte Madera, Calif., with protective plastic. Now
she's taping off the trim, getting ready to paint over the
peach-colored living room walls with the more neutral "bisque" shade
waiting in cans at her feet.
"I've been using the famous blue masking tape," she says, "trying to use really professional stuff."
is not professionally trained for the work she's been doing lately:
everything from sewing curtains to fixing drywall. Until about five
months ago, the 38-year-old was the director of a nonprofit in Berkeley.
She resigned from that job. And after freelancing for awhile, she
decided to hunt for something more permanent.
started putting in applications, and you know how the job market is,"
she says. "It was just crickets on the other end. People weren't even
telling me 'thank you' for sending an application."
So, Mills started searching for work on TaskRabbit.com, a Web service that connects people who need money with others who need someone to perform casual work.
really about helping people in a service networking marketplace to
connect and help each other out," says TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque.
She launched the online labor marketplace in 2008 after the stock market
had crashed, and waves of people were being laid off.
'Rabbits' Wait For Work
of the site's early "Rabbits" were unemployed people looking to tide
themselves over until they found a stable job. The company now has 4,000
TaskRabbits, with 1,000 more on a waiting list.
out running their own errands anyway," Busque says. "Our most popular
tasks are in the category of house chores, grocery deliveries, food
The online classifieds site
Craigslist used to be the go-to destination to hire and find casual
work. But unlike Craigslist, TaskRabbit has an infrastructure of
profiles, bidding and reviews. And Busque says she's paid special
attention to the trust factor.
through a series of background checks, including a Social Security
trace, a federal background check, a country background check," she
says. "There are about five of them that we do. All of our TaskRabbits
have to read a manual, take a quiz to get their license."
is a 1-year-old company with a goal similar to TaskRabbit's: helping
people make extra cash. But Gigwalk matches people with businesses that
want to outsource work but don't want to hire full-time employees.
and reputation are critical," says founder Ariel Seidman. "We're
helping facilitate a transaction between two different people."
Making Extra Cash In Coffee Shops
Bittner, 23, a software engineer, used Gigwalk and found that Microsoft
was hiring people to take panoramic photos of the inside of the coffee
shops where she was often doing her programming work anyway.
were going to post this onto Bing maps, so if people were looking up
different restaurants to go to, they would be able to see what the
atmosphere was like," Bittner says. "And I figured the $7 would buy my
coffee for the day."
Bittner eventually found
a full-time job, so she doesn't use Gigwalk much anymore. But Shannon
Mills continues to use TaskRabbit, and earns about $1,000 a month.
enough to sustain me," Mills says. "I think that this is an experiment
for me, and I'd like to keep trying it for a little while, and I'd like
to see what works and maybe what doesn't work."
catch is that services like TaskRabbit don't offer benefits, health
insurance — or a guarantee that work will be there the next day.
that's not stopping these companies' growth. Gigwalk has more than
100,000 people signed up nationwide. And TaskRabbit plans to roll out
its service in three new cities, for a total of eight around the