Module 10: The Labour and Ethics of Crip Making

10.3 Digital Labour

What kinds of labour go into creating and revising digital narratives? Popular depictions of digital media—particularly the future of digital media—imagine a shift away from the body, characters disappearing into data, avatars, and digital fantasies. Yet in every module, we have identified the very real physical impact of using screen technologies. From eyestrain to repetitive motion injuries, there are very real physical side-effects to using communications devices and digital media. Furthermore, digital projects require intellectual, emotional, and creative labour. Adjacent to these projects (but not to our bodies, or to a course centred on disability justice) we also find care work and the labour of self- and collective care, rest, and recovery.

Types of Labour

We are going to reflect on the kinds of labour and the specific activities completed during the planning, drafting, and revising stages of a digital project. Expand the accordion below to see examples of each kind of labour.


Measurements and Milestones

Timecards and deadlines, word counts and presentation. We can measure our work by time, by energy, by output, by errors. Each form of measurement tells us something about what is being valued, and what kind of work we recognize as work. Do we only value the finished product? Do we value the process of learning? Do we value rest and care?

Measuring only by output or final product erases so much of the work we do thinking, planning, drafting, revising, failing, trying again, encountering a technological glitch, and having to change our plan last minute. We run out of time. We run out of patience. We think about our project on the bus and have a breakthrough over breakfast. We stare at the blank, pulsing screen of the computer for hours, stuck. We panic. We rest. We take care of ourselves. We take care of others. We make countless cups of tea. We put the project down and go for a walk, or a nap. We binge an entire season of our favourite sit-com in a single afternoon.

How do we honour and acknowledge all the different kinds of labour we do in our lives that intersect with our creative and academic work?

Ways to Measure a Creative Project

The chart below was created to broaden the way we measure success and progress, starting from a traditional measurement of time and product, and then moving toward less conventional ways of understanding and valuing our labour. Copy the chart to your preferred document and fill out your own thoughts, reflecting on a digital project you worked on or thought about through this Pressbook, and adding at least two of your own personalized methods of measurement.


Answer (based on your course project)

What forms of labour does this measurement acknowledge?

Hours (thinking, planning, drafting, troubleshooting)




Word count

Glasses of water drunk

Things I learned


“I can’t do this”


Number of file versions




The chart you just completed focused more on the process than the product by acknowledging critical moments in the project development. Another traditional mode of marking progress as we move through a large project is through checking off a list of milestones, ticking tasks off one at a time from step 1 through 10.

An example might look something like this:

  1. Topic selection
  2. Project proposal
  3. Narrow topic to be more specific
  4. Project outline
  5. Finalize medium/platform
  6. Project draft
  7. Final version of project

These steps may look familiar, as this is a standard format used in school and/or office work to measure and record project milestones. However, this system still erases many other forms of labour—such as care work (for ourselves and others) and troubleshooting our troublesome technology, and flattens the creative process to a series of specific, goal-oriented points.

How would our understanding of progress and process shift if we added other milestones, ones that introduce the complexity of our lives and the needs of our into the project framework? What might these milestones look like? What would it mean to “” the narrative of project creation?

Example cripped project experience:

  1. Topic selection
  2. The first time I went down an Internet rabbit hole researching the topic and ended up finding a new favourite TikTok
  3. Topic outline
  4. First time working on the project in bed during a severe chronic pain flare-up
  5. Stopped working on the project due to chronic pain flare up
  6. First time working on the project on my cell phone waiting at the bank
  7. Failure/writer’s block/lost my direction when working on the project
  8. Project draft
  9. Crying that the project won’t be good enough and deciding I should quit academia
  10. Final version


Read the two project experience lists above and then answer the following questions:

  • How does this version differ from the first one?
  • What has been added?
  • What has become visible?
  • Do you have a clearer vision of the experience or the person?

In the space below, draft your own project milestones, including any moments or experiences that stood out to you during the course of creating your digital narrative. Add as many as you need!



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Digital Methods for Disability Studies Copyright © 2022 by Esther Ignagni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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