[iDC] On Immaterial Labour

keith at thememorybank.co.uk keith at thememorybank.co.uk
Sat Aug 4 13:53:23 UTC 2007


Thanks for this interesting and concise contribution. I wonder if you have
come across a tremendous book by anthropologist Kal Applbaum, The Marketing
Era: from professional practice to global provisioning. New York: Routledge
(2003). Because so much of the discourse is dismissively anti, he puts
forward a rather monolithic case for treating corporate marketing seriously
as a cultural phenomenon.

Keith Hart

Original Message:
From: davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 17:11:36 -0400
To: iDC at mailman.thing.net
Subject: [iDC] On Immaterial Labour

I read the blog and the articles in question, and I wanted to add a
comment.  I apologize if this is something that has already been
addressed here (I've just signed up)...

But my current research is preoccupied with stories (movies, novels,
tv shows, etc.) that deal with the "prosopoetic subject" (one whose
image is drawn out from fields data).  I had not used "immaterial
labor" to describe the vast amounts of cultural work that are
necessary for the sort of datamining projects that the managment class
dreams of.  From the police profiling to direct mail politics, from
commercial marketing to mental health assessment, from trend scouts to
academically-trained futurists, the term "immaterial labor" is as
urgent as it ever has been.

While there is the relatively tangible investment (of hours) that
users add to the value of sites like myspace and youtube, there are
also less tangible, passive, but highly lucrative resources that these
sites can capitalize on:  1) The development of standardized, detailed
personal profiles tied to browsing patterns, quizzes, and social
networks.  It's a market researchers dream.  2) The opportunity to
guide the process of identity and community formation.  Altogether,
it's a massive experiment in social research and engineering.

I don't imagine that I can fully comprehend the scope and scale of
market research in the "New Economy," so I would be interested in
talking to people who might share this interest.

Davin Heckman
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