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ODU to Host Filmmaker for Screening and Discussion of Viral Documentary “Workers Leaving the Googleplex”

Screenshot from "Workers Leaving the Googleplex" documentaryA screenshot from Andrew Norman Wilson's short film "Workers Leaving the Googleplex."

The Old Dominion University Institute of Humanities will host documentarian Andrew Norman Wilson on Thursday, Jan. 16, for a screening and discussion of his short film "Workers Leaving the Googleplex."

Wilson worked as a contractor at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., between 2007 and 2008, during which he filmed a special "yellow badge" class of non-technical workers as they left their building, which was adjacent to his own. Wilson also tried to talk to the laborers about their jobs scanning books, page by page, for Google Book Search, but security personnel intervened, thwarting the effort, according to his account.

Wilson, who says he is "interested in issues of class, race and labor," had noticed that the workers - who come in at 4 a.m. and leave at 2 p.m. - was composed largely of minorities who were completely sequestered from Google's other employees. He claims they were also denied many of the famous perks afforded to other Google workers and contractors, such as top-tier cafeterias, lounge areas, shuttles, bikes and ski trips.

Apparently, according to Wilson, the laborers and their work is considered top secret at Google - so much so that his brief foray into their work-a-day world got him fired.

After leaving Google, Wilson posted online the 11-minute video of workers coming and going from building 3.1459. It went viral and earned him numerous media mentions as a result.

At the ODU event, which is co-sponsored by the Department of Communication and Theatre Arts, the Department of English and the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs, Wilson will be accompanied for the discussion by a panel of university faculty, including:

Tim Anderson, assistant professor of communication and theatre arts

Kenneth Fitzgerald, professor of art

David Roh, assistant professor of digital humanities and literature

D.E. Wittkower, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies

The event will be held from 5-7 p.m. in the Burgess Room (9024) of the Batten Arts and Letters Building.

Seating is limited; contact Stacey Parks at sparks@odu.edu to RSVP or for more details.

More information about the filmmaker and "Workers Leaving the Googleplex" can be found at Andrew Norman Wilson's website.